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Rakesh Mohan proposals for Rlys shelved

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The Minister for Railways, Mr Nitish Kumar, releasing the report of the railway expert group headed by Dr Rakesh Mohan (right) in New Delhi on Friday.

NEW DELHI, Feb. 8

THE Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, today made it clear that it will not be feasible to implement reform measures recommended by the Rakesh Mohan Committee - corporatisation of production units, revamp of the Railway Board, recast of railway accounts into company format - in the near term.

The committee's recommendation on tariff-rebalancing through a substantial hike in second-class fares may not pass muster either. Indications are that there will only be a modest hike in rail passenger fares and freight rates may not be tinkered with.

"While the Rakesh Mohan Committee has diagnosed the problems of the Indian Railways well, there is no unanimity on the solutions offered," Mr Nitish Kumar said here, after formally releasing the Rakesh Mohan Committee report.

Although the Railway Ministry has set up an internal group to examine the recommendations, there are serious differences within this group on key recommendations of the Rakesh Mohan Committee including the setting up of a rail tariff regulatory authority, said official sources. This has delayed the finalisation of the internal group's report.

The Rakesh Mohan Committee has recommended an 8 per cent hike in second-class ordinary fares, a 10 per cent hike in second-class sleeper fares and a 1-2 per cent increase in upper class fares over the next five years.

However, during the pre-Budget deliberations with the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, Mr Nitish Kumar made it clear a hefty hike in fares would not be feasible in the ensuing Rail Budget, said official sources.

"The railways are gradually moving on the reform path by initiating measures such as decentralisation of powers to various zonal managers, setting up of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which will operate as an independent profit centre," Mr Nitish Kumar said.

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