Railway Minister Mamata Bannerjee on Tuesday came under attack in Rajya Sabha from CPI-M, her arch political rival in West Bengal, for raising freight before presentation of the Rail Budget.
Participating in the debate on the Railway Budget, Shayamal Chakraborty (CPI-M) said contrary to the announcement of no rise in rates, "freight of essential items like sugar and salt were raised just before the Budget."
He said freight for iron ore, coal, steel and coke too were increased through various circulars. Increase in charges of coal, a vital input for power generation, could be gauged from the fact that Kolaghat Thermal Power Station in West Bengal alone would pay an additional Rs 11,062 crore on account of the price revision.
Contending that Railways was earlier in good financial health, he said it has "become a burden now."
Banerjee retorted saying, "They are doing dirty politics."
Chakraborty said Railways lacked a proper financial system and administration adding, "There is no Managing Director for Dedicated Freight Corridor," the foundation of which was laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He said the projects were moving at a snail's speed and major promises such as world class stations and model stations were still not fulfilled.
As many as 79 foundations have been laid by Eastern Railways alone at a cost of over Rs 5 crore but the projects were yet to be implemented, he said.
In one case President Pratibha Patil had laid foundation stone of a project on land which was not owned by the Railways. The project had to shifted, he said.
Ganga Charan (BSP) said the interests of the common masses were put on the backburner.
"Railways should pay attention to cleanliness as its stations and toilets were littered with filth and garbage," he said.
Baisnab Parida (BJD) and A Elavarasan (AIADMK) said Orissa and Tamil Nadu have been given step-motherly treatment in the Rail Budget.