The Ministry of Railways has demanded gross budgetary support (GBS) of about Rs 75,000 crore from the Ministry of Finance in the upcoming budget.
The GBS sought by the railway ministry is about 7 per cent higher than GBS of Rs 70,250 crore allocated for the financial year 2020-21 in last year's budget by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. It may be noted that the GBS was at Rs 69,967 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 55,088 crore in 2018-19.
A railway ministry official told BusinessToday.In on condition of anonymity that the ministry has made a budget representation to the finance ministry with higher capital outlay this year.
"In our budget representation, we have pegged the total outlay for Railways at Rs 1,80,000 crore for 2021-22 to the Ministry of Finance. Out of this, GBS of Rs 75,000 crore has been demanded," the official said.
The total capital expenditure for which representation has been made by the ministry is 12.5 per cent over the previous year's budget estimate on the outlay. The ministry, however, is hopeful that the government will approve Railway budget size of at least Rs 1,70,000 crore, which essentially will mean a 6 per cent increment in the size of the Railway budget.
The official, however, did not divulge whether and to what extent does the ministry expect a cut in the revised estimates of the allocations made for the ongoing financial year as an impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
The capital expenditure in Budget Estimates 2020-21 was to the tune of Rs 1,60,142 crore with GBS of Rs 70,250 crore and internal accruals and extra budgetary resources pegged at 90,792 crore.
For the current financial year, the ministry had proposed Rs 35,965 crore for new line gauge conversion and doubling projects. Officials in the ministry concede that the lockdown provided an opportunity to the Railways to deploy the funds and fastrack the infra work when the trains were not plying.
Even though the budget size won't get a significant push, the ministry is looking at several new measures to be announced. These may include new trains for connecting pilgrims and tourism centres. The Railways may also witness higher dependence on solar energy and a plan for the same may be put in place soon.
Private train, especially in the high speed category, is one of the top agenda of the government.
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