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PM's help sought to check slide in petro cargo

Our Bureau

New Delhi , July 6

THE Railways has sought the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh's intervention to cushion the impact on its revenues from the fast increasing network of petroleum pipelines.

The Railways wants that the Government should keep them in the loop while clearing any new pipeline projects. Movement of petroleum products, an important revenue source for the Railways, has witnessed a sharp decline in recent years.

"Any assets created by the Railways are national assets. We have invested in creating infrastructure in terms of tank wagons and loading facilities for the petroleum sector. We are only saying that the Government should consult us before approving any new pipeline project," the Railways Financial Commissioner, Ms Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan, told Business Line.

The Railway brass has already apprised the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, in this regard and has requested that an inter-ministerial group to be set up to look into the issue, she said.

The Railways carried 34.05 million tonnes of petro products in 2002-03, which fell to 32.5 million tonnes in 2003-04 and projected to decline further to 32 million tonnes in the current year. The decline comes despite the Railways reducing the freight charges for the sector by putting petroleum under a lower class.

The Railways hopes to put its act together in the current year and enhance its earnings from the petroleum sector from Rs 2,326.7 crore to Rs 2,465 crore, Ms Viswanathan said.

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