Another Railway Budget has come and gone from the “acche din” government. However, there has been no mention of Commuter Railway for Bengaluru.
The biggest beneficiary of these services are people of the city. The blame for this, however, is not with the center, but with the State government. there was much the State could have done to facilitate Commuter Railway, which was not done.
Here is the list of such issues:
- Lack of political will: The government of the day has the wherewithal to announce multi-crore elevated highways and induce more motor vehicle demand in the name of congestion elimination but does not have the will to push through a proposal like commuter rail. This is clear by the lack of awareness on Commuter Railway displayed by any of the MLAs or cabinet minister in the state. Ask them the details and most will be clueless; but they will tell you which elevated highway is being proposed.
- Incompetent politics: We have had the fortune of having three ministers from Karnataka associated with the Indian Railways over the past four years. KH Muniyappa, Mallikarjun Kharge and Sadanand Gowda. At one point there was even the same party in both center and state but the politics of these confluences failed to deliver anything for the state. So what is the quality of politics being practiced by these parties where outcome for the people is not feasible?
- Slow on procedure: A DPR was commissioned in late 2013, with a view to finish it by July 2014 and kickstarting the process. After the delay of almost a year, the DPR has reportedly been completed last week. The government could have hurried the process up by at least a couple of months, so that some arrangements could have been worked out with the Indian railways before the budget. It is of no use to send out a letter a week before the railway budget. Now we will have to wait a whole year before the next budget, to move it forward.
- Elite capture of solution space: There is a strong lobby of new generation business like IT sector whose leadership doesn’t have empathy for the problems of masses. They have always put their weight behind elitist solutions revolving around cars and roads, and rarely towards mass transit solutions like Commuter Rail. It is easy for them to come back when the solution fails and clamour for more or even disown the state and move. But residents cannot afford this use and throw attitude. This has also been a stumbling block for Commuter Rail. The government seems to be listening to these, rather than doing what is right.
Considering all these issues, one can safely conclude that unless the State government gets its act together and wants to make it happen, Commuter Rail is going to be a long shot. I don’t even want to go into how it is putting unsustainable road widening and flyover building programs when the rest of the world is tearing it down. If we don’t learn the right lessons we will head the China way, which for some strange reason is being looked upon as a successful “development” story. It is up to the people to realise the value of this mode of transport and make the representation to the State government.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. Citizen Matters is not responsible for the views expressed by citizen journalists.