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February 25, 2000
Mamta leaves passengers fares alone
By A Correspondent
Mamta Banerjee's first railway budget -- also the first by a woman railway minister -- had none of the harshness normally associated with the exercise.
In a speech that was regularly interrupted by vociferous Opposition members, the Trinamul Congress leader announced that she was not hiking passenger fares on any class of travel, nor would she touch the freight rates on essential commodities. However, general freight on other commodities would go up by 5 per cent.
Announcing the introduction of 24 new trains, Banerjee also struck an emotional chord with her decision to reserve 100 jobs for the families of Kargil martyrs.
Among other decisions the railway minister announced are: All-India railway catering corporation to be set up on April 1, 2000; increased spending on railway safety; Mumbai-Goa-Nashik Palace on Wheels; 20 pc enhancement in railway staff quarters; pensioners helpline website; ticket availability through the Internet; internal audit system to be streamlined; millennium gift for freedom fighters, via a round trip by Shatabdi/Rajdhani; free travel facility extended for students till std X; 75 pc concession in 2nd and sleepers rates for widows of Operation Vijay.
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