Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Round Table India | Marichjhapi and the Revenge of Bengali Bhadralok

लोकस्मृति छोटी होती है, इसलिए दर्ज करना जरूरी है कि भारतीय इतिहास में सबसे बड़े दलित नरसंहार-मरिचझांपी के लिए CPM ने अब तक माफी नहीं मांगी है. इस बारे में असंख्य लेख और किताबों में जिक्र उपलब्ध हैं. भद्रलोक कम्युनिस्टों को सांप्रदायिक हिंसा के बारे में बात करने के साथ ही मरिचझापी की बात भी करनी चाहिए. यह नरसंहार ज्योति बसु के शासन काल में हुआ था. 



(First published in Insight blog in 2009)

Anoop Kumar, Ajay Hela and Nilesh Kumar


Exactly 30 years ago, Dalits, in West Bengal, came to realize the true nature of Indian state that is being dominated, in every sense, by a tiny section of population but at a great personal cost. It was in 1979, when thousands of Dalits, refugees from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) lost their lives at Marichjhapi, in Sunderbans, for their dream of resettling in the region which they considered part of their motherland.

Marichjhapi is just once incident in the tragic tale of one of the most powerful Dalit Community-Namashudras of Bengal - who first became the victim of Hindu-Muslim communalism during the partition and later became the victims of their castes in independent India.

mari_5Moreover, the complete silence of Bengal's civil society for almost 30 years and the fact that Dalits were killed by Communist government of West Bengal that came in the power in the name of poor and dispossessed, raises some serious questions about representation of Dalits in every sphere, the constitution of civil society and hegemony of few privileged castes over the political power in Independent India.

Apart from these, the Namashudra problem also poses a big question for the Dalits (and Dalit movement) living in other parts of the country about whether they are willing to fight for the rights of their fellow community people who, unfortunately, paid the ultimate price for sending Babasaheb Ambedkar to the Constituent Assembly.

Before Marichjhapi

In 1946, Constituent Assembly was constituted with the mandate to frame Indian constitution and to function as provisional parliament for independent India. Its members were elected by state assemblies and represented almost all major communities of the country. However, the Congress government in Bombay province, headed by B.G. Kher and under instructions from Sardar Patel, ensured that Babasaheb Ambedkar was not elected.

mari_6At this crucial juncture, a very prominent leader Jogendra Nath Mandal ensured his election from the Bengal province. Thus Babasaheb could enter into the constituent assembly and, later, become prime architect of Indian Constitution that guaranteed many rights for the Dalits including representation in education and government jobs.

Who was Jogendra Nath Mandal? How could Babasaheb enter into Constituent Assembly from Bengal being ambushed by Congress in Bombay province and declared persona non grata due to his exposure of Gandhi and Congress as upholders of 'upper' caste Hindu domination?

He could enter at the strength of the then untouchable community called Namashudras and Jogendra Nath Mandal was one of the prominent Namashudra leaders of Bengal.

Namashudras were largely an agrarian community well-known for its hardworking nature, agricultural and artisan skills. It was one of the biggest communities of Bengal, with majority of its population based in east part of undivided Bengal (now Bangladesh) with a long tradition of resisting caste-hindu domination and fighting against untouchability practices and other ignominies thrust on them by the caste system.

mari_10The Namashudra movement had been one of the most politically mobilized untouchable's movements in colonial India that, even before Dr Ambedkar, had rejected Congress leadership for upholding the interests of landowning 'upper' castes under the ruse of Indian nationalism. The complete monopoly of rich Bengali Bhadraloks (a land owning class of people belonging to three Hindu 'upper' castes – brahmins, kayasthas and vaidyas) on congress leadership validated their severe indictment of the policies of the Congress.

Even prior to congress, the Namashudras were the only voice of resistance to much touted Bengal 'renaissance' that, in all practical terms, were efforts of 'upper' caste hindus to consolidate themselves and aggressively bargain with British colonial government to restrict the benefits of British built institutions like that of education, judiciary, bureaucracy and local governance for themselves.

The success of the Namashudra Movement could be easily measured by the autonomous political space which they were able to chalk out for themselves in Bengal politics and in alliance with Muslims had kept the Bengal Congress Party in opposition from the 1920s. At the strength of this political space only they could get Babasaheb elected to the Constituent Assembly.

mari_9This exclusion of 'upper' caste Hindus from power in Bengal led Hindu elite and eventually the Congress Party pressing for partition of the province at independence, so that at least the western half would return to their control. So successful they have been in their design that West Bengal is probably the only state in the country where 'upper' caste hegemony went completely unchallenged in independent India till today.

It is clearly manifested in every sphere of life there and one hardly comes across any murmur of Dalit assertion ever.

One of the best indicators of 'upper' caste Hindu domination over West Bengal would be the number of Cabinet positions enjoyed by them in the successive state governments - the tiny tri-caste Bengali elite (consisting of brahmins, kayasthas and vaidyas) increased its Cabinet composition from 78 percent under the Congress regime (1952-62) to 90 percent under the Communist regime indicating their complete domination over West Bengal.

How this was achieved? What happened to the once powerful Namashudra community that resisted the 'upper' caste hegemony in pre-independent India?

The Plight of Namashudras in post Independent India

mari_8Marichjhapi is one of the small islands lying within the Sundarbans area of West Bengal. It was here, in 1979, that thousands of Dalits were killed by the communist led West Bengal government. Hundreds were killed directly in police firings but many more died of starvation, lack of drinking water and diseases due to the economic blockade that was imposed on them by the state government and carried out by the police and communist cadres together.

Their settlements in Marichjhapi were completely bulldozed, destroyed and hundreds of women raped leaving behind only the dead bodies of the Dalits to be either dumped in the water bodies or to be eaten by the beasts of nearby jungles in one of the biggest genocide carried out by any state in independent India.

The people who survived were driven out of West Bengal to continue living with the tragic memories of their lost loved ones and perpetual longing for the soil that once constituted parts of their motherland.

What happened at Marichjhapi is just one incident in the long tragic history of this particular Bengali Dalit community that started with the partition of the country and is continued till today. They have been living in their own country as second grade citizens, being forcefully scattered throughout the country.

mari_11These helpless victims belonged to a Dalit community called Namashudras and were refugees from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) who were dispatched to different parts of the country by the state government citing the lack of space in West Bengal but took no time and least efforts to provide maximum possible relief and rehabilitation to the 'upper' caste refugees.

Apart from this, these refugees illegally occupied large areas in and around Kolkata and other major cities of Bengal and got it regularized but when it came to Dalit refugees, the then Congress Chief Minister B.C. Roy wrote to Prime Minister Nehru that 'we have no place for them, send them to other states'.

Then these Dalit refugees, despite their vociferous protests, were dispatched to inhospitable and far flung areas of states like Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Uttaranchal, Assam to live in completely alien environment. They were driven down to these places packed in government vehicles as cattle, under strict police supervision. Later many of their settlements in different states, like Mana camp in Orissa, were turned into concentration camps as government employed the services of Indian army to guard the camps for 12 long years, lest these people would escape to West Bengal.

Marichjhapi massacre of Dalit refugees by Left government in Bengal is just one incident. Even before Marichjhapi there were numerous incidents where many Namashudra refugees got killed by police while demanding for better provisions in the camps where they were being forcefully kept.

mari_17Apart from being persecuted by the state, the Namashudras, settled outside West Bengal, also suffered enormously from various other factors. They continuously faced hostility of local populace that strongly resented the presence of outsiders in their surroundings. Most of the camps were in the areas that were not fit for agriculture and being primarily an agrarian community, totally different type of climates and soil conditions made them handicap.

Also even the reservation provisions for which, as Dalits, they would have been eligible in West Bengal, were not recognized in the states in which they were settled, as their castes were not native to those states. Despite all the difficulties, Namashudra refugees settled in different states kept their dream alive of returning back to the environment/culture/land that they belong to.

The Great Communist Betrayal

During this period, in late 1960s and till mid-70s, the Bengali communists led by CPI (M), which was in opposition then, took up the case of these refugees and demanded the government to settle them within their native Bengal rather than scatter them across India on the lands of other peoples.

The communist, again its leadership monopolized by 'upper' caste, started raising their voices in the support of Dalit refugees and promised to provide them rehabilitation in West Bengal. The sites they mentioned in West Bengal for resettlement were either the Sundarbans area of the Ganges delta or vacant land scattered in various places throughout the state. The party leaders went around various Dalit camps campaigning for their return to West Bengal, simultaneously promising full support after coming in power.

mari_19Particularly one, Mr. Ram Chatterjee, who later became minister in the CPI (M) led government, exhorted the Dalit refugees by thundering, "The 5 crore Bengalis by raising their 10 crore hands are welcoming you back."

In 1977, when the Left Front came to power, they found that the Dalit refugees had taken them at their words having disposed off whatever their meager belongings were and have marched towards West Bengal. In all, 1, 50,000 refugees arrived from Dandakaranya region of what is now Chhattisgarh expecting the communists to honour their words.

Instead the Left Front government started sending them back forcibly citing the lack of space in the state – the same reason that was cited earlier when the Dalits arrived from East Bengal during the partition. It was a rude shock for the refugees who were depending on the newly elected Left Front government. When they opposed this, Dalit refugees were brutally evicted from various railway stations, being fired upon by the West Bengal police and were denied food and water.

Still many refugees managed to escape and reached Marichjhapi, an island that lies in the northern part of the Sunderbans. Thousands of other Dalit refugees also marched to Marichjhapi on feet along the railway tracks, avoiding the police.

mari_12By the end of the year 1978, there were 30,000 Dalit refugees in the island of Marichjhapi who rapidly established it as one of the best-developed islands of the Sundarbans. Within a few months tube-wells had been dug, a viable fishing industry, saltpans, dispensaries and schools were established. In short, in just few months, the hard working Namashudras built a thriving local economy without any government support in the region that is considered the poorest in West Bengal.

Deeply humiliated by the successful resettlement of Namashudra refugees in Marichjhapi, the Left Front government started their propaganda against them by stating that the 'Marichjhapi is a part of the Sundarbans government reserve forest' and therefore Dalit refugees were 'violating the Forest Acts and thereby disturbing the existing and potential forest wealth and also creating ecological imbalance'.

This was a blatant lie as Marichjhapi did not fall under government reserve forest at all. The Bengali Bhadralok leadership of Left Front had to resort to such lies and take up environmental concerns as an excuse as the Marichjhapi exposed their earlier lie too regarding 'lack of space in West Bengal'.

The West Bengal government launched a full frontal assault on the Marichjhapi and the Dalit refugees. It started with the economic blockade. The police cordoned off the whole island, cutting every communication links with the outside world.

mari_15Thirty police launches encircled the island thereby depriving the settlers of food and water; they were also tear-gassed, their huts razed, their boats sunk, their fisheries and tube-wells destroyed, and those who tried to cross the river were shot at. Several hundred men, women and children were believed to have died during that time and their bodies thrown in the river.

And those who tried to defy this economic blockade by swimming across to other islands in search of food and water were brutally shot. On the January 31, 1979 the police opened fire killing 36 people who were trying to get food and water from a nearby island.

It was not that the media was not aware of the sufferings and police brutalities on hapless Namashudras. When the reports of Marichjhapi started appearing in the media, Jyoti Basu, then chief minister of Bengal, shamelessly, termed it as 'CIA conspiracy' against newly elected communist government of Bengal and exhorted media to support the government in 'national interest'.

Jyoti Basu justified the police actions by accusing Namashudra refugees of being agents of foreign forces and using Marichjhapi as arms-training centre. Moreover, Jyoti Basu declared the whole area to be out of bound for media and thus effectively silencing any dissenting voices or reporting of the killings of Dalit refugees.

It took more than five months and killings of thousands of Dalit refugees for the West Bengal government to effectively crush the Namashudra resistance in Marichjhapi. Totally devastated by the government brutalities the rest of the Namsahudras were packed off, as prisoner of war, back to Chattishgarh and Andaman.

mari_18After destroying all the huts, markets, schools and all other visible markers of Namashudra settlement, West Bengal government declared, in May 1979, Marichjhapi 'finally free from all refugees'.

Regarding the total lives lost during the West Bengal government's assault on Marichjhapi we will quote from one of the earliest writings on this incident by A. Biswas who wrote, in 1982, that '...out of the 14,388 families who deserted [for West Bengal), 10,260 families returned to their previous places . . . and the remaining 4,128 families perished in transit, died of starvation, exhaustion, and many were killed in Kashipur, Kumirmari, and Marichjhapi by police firings". [A. Biswas, 1982, "Why Dandakaranya a Failure, Why Mass Exodus, Where Solution?" The Oppressed Indian 4(4):18-20.]

Memories in the black hole

Exactly thirty years have passed by of this fateful event that took place in Marichjhapi but not many from outside are aware of the communist government's genocidal acts against Dalits. There has been complete silence even from the Bengali civil society that claims to be very progressive and free from caste biases.

The Bengali scholars, Marxist or otherwise, rule the Indian academia and write, articulate on all the problems that plague this earth. But none of them broke their silence ever on the merciless killings and eviction of people who belonged to the same Bengali society but were Dalits. Marichjhapi was soon forgotten, except by the Dalits themselves.

The communists who keep on harping on fighting for the poor and dispossessed took no time in killing the same people soon after occupying the state power.

Perhaps this was apt revenge from the Bengali Bhadralok, (that completely monopolizes the Bengali civil society, it's so called scholarly class, communist and congress leadership) against Namashudra community that once successfully challenged 'upper' caste hegemony in undivided Bengal. So successful is the revenge that the community now lives in complete oblivion and scattered across the country without anyone standing for their rights or speaking about what actually happened in Marichjhapi in 1979.




While writing this article, we have drawn heavily from following two research articles among the very few that are available on the tragic tale of one our Dalit communities. We are reproducing both the articles for the benefit of our readers so that we all become more aware of the tragedy and are able to fight for justice. We are taking the liberty of posting the articles in all good faith despite the possibility of infringing copy rights.

1. Mallick, Ross, 'Refugee Resettlement in Forest Reserves: West Bengal Policy Reversal and the Marichjhapi Massacre', The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 58, No. 1. (Feb., 1999), pp. 104-125.

2. Jalais, Annu, 'Dwelling on Morichjhanpi: When Tigers Became 'Citizens', Refugees 'Tiger-Food', Economic and Political Weekly, April 23, 2005


Images courtesy: The documentary 'Marichjhapi Massacre' and the internet.

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No fare hike this time but 5-6% every year!Govt pushes for austerity as railways to lose Rs 24,600cr as Rail freight hike on diesel may lead to rise in retail prices!

No fare hike this time but 5-6% every year!Govt pushes for austerity as railways to lose Rs 24,600cr as Rail freight hike on diesel may lead to rise in retail prices!

The vote equation centred tradition is well defended. Claps for the congress railway minister after fifteen years!

Rail Budget 2013: Drafted with a vengeance to West Bengal, says TMC

Palash Biswas

It was well set question paper for first Railway Minister from congress after fifteen years. He answered as the examiners wished. It is growth oriented railway budget to push economic reforms. Fiscal defecit has been the eternal theme song for the corporate policy making and governance. The railway minister danced to the set tune all the way. Our didi, the fire brand leader from Bengal had announced projects in Bengal costing more than seventy crores. The ralilway minister mocked her allowing only ten crore for four thousnad crore noap[ara barracjpore metro ral project. Other projects costing thousnd crores just get around 150 to 250 crores. All factories and hospitals mentioned in didqs budget have been discarded in retail.while he has been very generous to states like Rajsthan ignoring UP and Bihar. The vote equation centerd tradition is well defended. Claps for the congress railway minister after fifteen years!

Trinamool Congress Members of Parliament created a ruckus in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) on Tuesday when railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presented his maiden budget claiming that Bengal has been neglected.

Bengal was certainly not expecting the largess that former railway minister and present West Bengal Chief Minsiter Mamata Banerjee bestowed on the state but curtailing the projects will certainly hit the development of the state.
No new Metro Railway projects have been announced. Banerjee had sanctioned 13 projects for a distance of 312 kilometres. In all likelihood, these won't go beyond the survey stage. A number of Metro projects under construction at present have hit roadblocks, an official said.

"The total project cost for these was Rs1.2 trillion [Dh81.4 billion]. In the last two budgets, Rs10 billion of this was allocated. The actual spending till January 2013 was a mere Rs1 billion. For a project that is likely to take five years to complete, the spending in the first year would be only about 10 per cent. It was poor planning to have allocated such huge sums at the start. This was Mamata Banerjee's effort to get mileage. Now that Rs9 billion has remained unutilised, nobody is sure whether funds will be available when they are actually required," said an official of the Indian railways.

Losses of the Indian Railways are estimated to increase to Rs 24,600 crore ($4.55 billion) in the financial year ending March 31 due to a sharp rise in input costs, resulting in "deterioration of services", railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said on Tuesday.Railways on Tuesday hiked freight rates for moving diesel and cooking fuels by almost 8 per cent, a move that may result in marginal hike in retail fuel prices. Freight on diesel was increased by 5.79 per cent to Rs 1,041.80 per tonne from Rs 984.80 a tonne currently.The same on kerosene went up by 5.79 per cent from Rs 886.30 per tonne to Rs 937.60 a tonne and that on liquified petroleum gas (LPG) by 5.79 per cent to Rs 937.60 a tonne.Sources said it was unlikely that the government, which is hard pressed for finances, would agree to taking on additional burden and the freight increase is likely to be passed on to consumers. The increase in retail rates of diesel, LPG and kerosene that is needed because of the freight increase is yet to be calculated.

The rates exclude development charge and busy season charges which essentially means that actual hike for oil companies would be higher, according to the Railway Budget for 2013-14 presented in Parliament by railway minister P K Bansal.

Oil companies transport over about 32-33 per cent of diesel, LPG and kerosene through railways and the hike in freight will either have to be passed on to consumers or have to be accounted as under-recoveries which the government would compensate from the general Budget.

Terming the Railway Budget for 2012-13 as "practical and implementable", finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said that his cabinet colleague Pawan Kumar Bansal has presented the finances of the railways in a very candid manner.

"The railway minister has presented a very responsible, practical and implementable budget," Chidambram told reporters outside Parliament.

Chidambaram, who will present the General Budget for fiscal 2012-13 on February 28, said, "Within the resources the railways can mobilise, I think he (Bansal) has done a remarkable job of providing new trains, new lines, extensions, capital works and production facilities."

On the financial conditions of the railways, he said, "I think after many years, he (the Minister) has candidly stated the finances of the railways... I think it is a very commendable budget.

Presenting the annual Budget of his ministry, Bansal said the loss, which was Rs 4,955 crore in 2001-02, surged to Rs 22,500 crore in 2011-12 and is estimated to rise to Rs 24,600 crore in the current financial year.Bansal said the increase in diesel prices last month had added Rs 3,330 crore to Railway's fuel bill. Also, adding to its burden, is electricity tariffs that are revised periodically.

"The increase in fuel bill during 2013-14 on account of these revisions would be more than Rs 5,100 crore," he said while proposing an across-the-board increase in freight charges of over 5 per cent.

And to cut the mounting losses, the railways would maintain financial discipline.

Key outside UPA allies Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party on Tuesday slammed the Rail budget, saying it was anti-poor and ignored areas of Uttar Pradesh which need rail infrastructure for economic development.

"I have never seen such an anti-people budget in my political life.... This is a budget for Congress...you can give new trains for Rae Bareli (Lok Sabha constituency of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi), but don't ignore Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal," SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav told reporters outside Parliament House.

BSP supremo Mayawati expressed similar sentiments saying the rail budget was a "disappointment".

"The poor and middle classes will not benefit much from it.... Fare has been hiked through backdoor," she said.

The Railway Budget for 2013-14 today spared passengers from any further hike in fares but raised various other charges on tickets along with freight tariff of less than 5%.

The ruling Trinamool Congress has dubbed the railway budget as "anti-aam admi" and against the interests of West Bengal. The budget will cripple the prospects of many key railway projects in West Bengal and has been revengeful towards the state. Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy told reporters in New Delhi that "the railway budget is direction less.

It's an anti-aam admi budget and there have been attempts to undermine Mamata Banerjee's role as a former railway minister. Meagre amount of money has been allocated for all the railway projects in West Bengal and the budget has been made with vengeance against West Bengal." "For example, around Rs 700 crore was needed for the Kanchrapara coach factory, but only Rs 2 crore has been allocated in the budget. Same are the fates of other railway projects like East-West Metro and expansion of railway tracks in the state.

There is a deliberate attempt to undermine projects mooted by Mamata Banerjee during her tenure as railway minister," Roy also told ET when contacted over phone. He also pointed out that "we are very dissatisfied with the plan of constituting railway tariff regulatory authority which should be set up by the parliament. If this new board is formed, it will certainly undermine the parliament also. The Congress will have to pay price for it. We will agitate and protest against it politically."

Meanehile, West Bengal Congress has welcomed the railway budget and contradicted Trinamool's opposition. "Not a single railway project in West Bengal has been shelved. Budgetary allocation for some projects in and around Kolkata have been curtailed because the railway could not achieve much progress in regard to implementation of those projects due to the negative role played by the state government. Mamata Banerjee's government has not acquired land for these railway projects and for which the railway could not achieve progress in regard to their implementations," West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) president Pradip Bhattacharjee told ET over phone.

He also claimed that not a single railway project announced by Mamata Banerjee as a railway minister had been abandoned by the railway ministry. "Trinamool Congress is trying to extract political mileage by opposing the budget even though it did not scrap a single project declared by Mamata Banerjee as the railway minister," he added.

The railway projects in and around Kolkata which received poor budgetary allocation include Joka-BBD Bag Metro rail, Noapara-Airport-Barasat rail link, Airport to New Gaira metro rail project and Barasat-Barrackpore-Dakshineswar Metro project. The CPIM has also opposed the railway budget.

"The railway budget will certainly add more burden on the common people. After increasing railway fares by 20 per cent a few months back, the Centre has imposed fuel surcharge and increased the cost of reservation and cancellation of railway tickets. All these will increase the cost of travelling by rail," the CPIM has said in a statement.

"Austerity and economy in expenditure will be observed by the railways rigorously and no wastage will be permitted," said Bansal.

He hoped that the fiscal measures taken by his ministry would help improve the railways' financial condition in the coming years.

"As a result of our consistent efforts at maintaining strict financial discipline during the year, the operating ratio is estimated at 88.8 percent. This is a source of great satisfaction as the operating ratio has consistently been over 90 per cent since 1997-98."

Bansal said the Indian Railways planned to invest Rs 63,363 crore ($11.5 billion) in the financial year beginning April 1 mainly on expansion of tracks and improving passenger safety measures.

The total planned investment for the current financial year has been lowered from Rs 60,100 crore to Rs 52,265 crore.

The Planning Commission has tentatively pegged the railways investment target for the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17) at Rs.5.19 lakh crore, with a budgetary support of Rs.1.94 lakh crore and railways internal resources of Rs 1.05 lakh crore.

"The thrust of the plan is on doubling of tracks, safety and passenger and staff welfare, for which I have increased the outlay from about Rs 11,410 crore in 2012-13 to Rs.13,220 crore, an increase of 16 per cent," Bansal said.

Bansal said the railway would get Rs 26,000 crore budgetary support in the current financial year to finance its plan expenditure.

Other sources of financing included Rs 14,260 crore from the railway's internal resources and Rs 2,000 crore from the railway's share in road safety fund.

There was a plan to raise Rs 15,103 crore from the market and mobilise Rs 6,000 crore through public-private-partnership (PPP) route to fund its expansion plans in 2013-14.

Bansal said 500 km of new railway lines would be built and 450 km of narrow and medium gauge lines would be converted into broad gauge lines in the financial year beginning April 1, 2013.

The government has also set a target to double 750 km of single railway lines.

"The growth of Indian Railways is inextricably linked with the growth of the country," Bansal said in his 80-minute budget speech in Lok Sabha, that bordered on populism with a fair dose of measures on fiscal discipline.

"Railways must remain financially sustainable. Resources generated must be ploughed back," he said in what was the last such annual exercise for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government before the next general elections, scheduled in 2014.

But Bansal said there will be no major fare hikes this time, having already revised them last month. He nevertheless proposed minor revisions in some charges, such as those for tatkal and reservations. He also called for a routine 5-6 percent fare hike every year.

On freight, he said, there will be an upward revision of 5-6 percent from April 1 to balance the hike in fuel costs. He said freight and passenger fares must be de-linked from the fuel costs with periodic automatic adjustments.

Bansal said while making all these proposals, he was happy to note that the operating ratio of Indian Railways -- the money spent on recurring costs such as salaries and interest to earn Rs 1 in revenue -- had come down to 88 paise from around 95 paise.

He kept the plan target for 2013-14 at Rs 63,363 crore (Rs.633.63 billion or $11.5 billion)

The minister said railways remained the single most important catalyst in India's growth story and was a vital organisation integrating the nation from Baramulla in the north to Kanyamumari in the south, and from Dwarka in the west to Ledo in the east.

Bansal expressed grief over the loss lives due to the recent stampede at the Allahabad station and said a concrete safety plan would ensure that travel on Indian Railways is hassle free. The minister said safety of women, in particular, will be a priority.

He said the remaining 13,000-odd unmanned level crossings will be mechanised, while 400 lifts and 179 escalators will be deployed in catagory one stations. This apart, coaches will be made wheel-chair friendly and approaches made easy for the differently-abled.

"With the popularity of Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains, high-travel comfort has been high on passenger agenda. For this, one such coach, that will provide excellent ambience and services, will run on select trains. Such coaches will be called 'Anubhuti'," he said.

India's railroad network, ranked among the top five in the world, is spread over 64,000 km with 7,083 stations, to ferry 23 million travellers and 2.65 million tonnes of goods daily on 12,000 passenger and 7,000 freight trains.

Bansal, who represents Chandigarh in the Lok Sabha, said he was well aware about the problems faced by passengers while booking tickets on the internet. Accordingly, he promised a next-generation ticketing system by the end of this year.

The advocate-turned politician also promised a new e-ticketing system through mobile phones, SMS alerts for reservation status and free wi-fi on select trains, apart from setting a target of Rs.1 trillion for projects under public-private partnership.

Rail Budget 2013: Highlights

Here are the highlights of the Rail Budget 2013 as presented by railway minister PK Bansal.

No hike in passenger fares

Superfast and Tatkal charges to rise

Annual plan for 2013-14 set at Rs 63,363 crore

Losses up from Rs 22,500 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 24,600 crore in 2012-13

Accidents per million km down from .41 to .13

Raised four companies of women RPF personnel; another eight to be raised for women's safety

67 new Express and 26 new passenger trains to run; 8 DEMU services and 5 MEMU services to be introduced; run of 57 trains to be extended; frequency of 24 trains to increase

22 new rail lines to be taken up in 2013-14

New debt service fund to be set up

Will close fiscal 2012-13 with fund balance against previous deficit; need to build fund balance to Rs.30,000 crore by end of 12th Plan

Operating ratio of 88.8 percent achieved

Dividend reduced from 5 to 4 percent

Electrification of 1,200 km to be completed this year

72 additional suburban services in Mumbai and 18 in Kolkata

Rs 6,600 crore increase in earnings from fare adjustment in January

Rs 63,000 crore investment in 2013-14

1,047 million tonnes freight loading estimated during 2013-14

Passenger earnings of Rs 42,000 crore estimated in 2013-14

Indian Railways Institute of Financial Management to be set up at Secunderabad

Chair at Delhi to promote research in reducing carbon footprint

Winners of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Dhyan Chand awards to get free first class passes

Complementary first class passes for parents of unmarried posthumous awardees of Maha Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra

Complementary passes of freedom fighters to be renewed every three years instead of annually

New forged wheel factory at Rae Bareli in collaboration with Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd

Greenfield Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMU) manufacturing facility at Bhilwara along with Rajasthan government and BHEL

Coach making unit at Sonepat in collaboration with Haryana government

Midlife rehabilitation workshop at Kurnool along with Andhra Pradesh government.

Railway energy management company to be set up to harness solar and wind energy

1,000 crossings to be energised by solar power

1.51 lakh vacancies to be filled up

Locomotive cabs to be air-conditioned

Azadi Express for travel to places associated with freedom struggle

India in 1 billion tonne freight club

By end of 2013-14, 1,500 km of contracts to be awarded for two dedicated rail corridors

Rs 1 lakh crore target set for public-private-partnership route

Free Wi-Fi to be provided on some trains

Rs 100 crore for improving stations in New Delhi

179 escalators and 400 lifts at A 1 and other select stations

E-ticketing through mobile phones

SMS alerts for passengers on reservation status

Next generation e-ticketing system by end of 2013

Seventeen bridges identified for repair

Smoke and fire detection system envisaged

Fire extinguishers to be kept in guard vans

Making corporate Safety Plan for a 10 year period (2014-24)

Introduction of Train Protection Warning System on Automatic Signalling Systems

Rigorous trials of indigenously developed Train Collision Avoidance System

Introduction of 160/200 kmph Self Propelled Accident Relief Trains

Elimination of 10,797 level crossings during the 12th Plan and no addition of such crossings

Six more Rail Neer bottling plants to be set up

List of new express, passenger trains introduced in Rail Budget 2013

Railways will introduce 67 new express trains, 27 new passenger trains and run of 58 trains will be extended, Pawan Bansal said.

Express trains

1. Ahmedabad - Jodhpur Express (Weekly) Via Samdari, Bhildi
2. Ajni (Nagpur) - Lokmanya Tilak (T) Express (Weekly) Via
3. Amritsar - Lalkuan Express (Weekly) Via Chandigarh
4. Bandra Terminus - Ramnagar Express (Weekly) Via Nagda,
Mathura, Kanpur, Lucknow, Rampur
5. Bandra Terminus - Jaisalmer Express (Weekly) Via Marwar,
6. Bandra Terminus - Hisar Express (Weekly) Via Ahmedabad,
Palanpur, Marwar, Jodhpur, Degana
7. Bandra Terminus - Haridwar Express (Weekly) Via Valsad
8. Bangalore - Mangalore Express (Weekly)
9. Bathinda - Jammu Tawi Express (Weekly) Via Patiala, Rajpura
10. Bhubaneswar - Hazrat Nizamuddin Express (Weekly) Via
11. Bikaner - Chennai AC Express (Weekly) Via Jaipur, Sawai
Madhopur, Nagda, Bhopal, Nagpur
12. Chandigarh -Amritsar Intercity Express (Daily) Via Sahibzada
Ajitsingh Nagar (Mohali), Ludhiana
13. Chennai - Karaikudi Express (Weekly)
14. Chennai - Palani Express (Daily) Via Jolarpettai, Salem, Karur,
Namakkal 32
15. Chennai Egmore - Thanjavur Express (Daily) Via Villupuram,
16. Chennai - Nagarsol (For Sai Nagar Shirdi) Express (Weekly)
Via Renigunta, Dhone, Kacheguda
17. Chennai - Velankanni Link Express (Daily) Via Villupuram,
Mayiladuthurai, Tiruvarur
18. Coimbatore - Mannargudi Express (Daily) Via
Tiruchchirappalli, Thanjavur, Nidamangalam
19. Coimbatore - Rameswaram Express (Weekly)
20. Delhi - Firozpur Intercity Express (Daily) Via Bathinda
21. Delhi Sarai Rohilla - Sikar Express (Bi-weekly) after gauge
22. Delhi - Hoshiarpur Express (Weekly)
23. Durg - Jaipur Express (Weekly)
24. Gandhidham - Visakhapatnam Express (Weekly) Via
Ahmedabad, Wardha, Ballarshah, Vijaywada
25. Hazrat Nizamuddin - Mumbai AC Express (Weekly) via
Bhopal, Khandwa, Bhusawal
26. Howrah - Chennai AC Express (Bi-weekly) Via Bhadrak,
Duvvada, Gudur
27. Howrah - New Jalpaiguri AC Express (Weekly) Via Malda
28. Hubli - Mumbai Express (Weekly) Via Miraj, Pune
29. Indore - Chandigarh Express (Weekly) Via Dewas, Ujjain,
Guna, Gwalior, Hazrat Nizamuddin
30. Jabalpur - Yesvantpur Express (Weekly)Via Nagpur,
31. Jaipur - Lucknow Express (Tri-weekly) Via Bandikui, Mathura,
32. Jaipur-Alwar Express (Daily)
33. Jodhpur -Jaipur Express (Daily) Via Phulera
34. Jodhpur - Kamakhya (Guwahati) Express (Weekly) Via
Degana, Ratangarh
35. Kakinada - Mumbai Express (Bi-weekly)
36. Kalka - Sai Nagar Shirdi Express (Bi-weekly) Via Hazrat
Nizamuddin , Bhopal, Itrasi 33
37. Kamakhya (Guwahati) - Anand VIhar Express (Weekly) Via
Katihar, Barauni, Sitapur Cantt, Moradabad
38. Kamakhya (Guwahati) - Bangalore AC Express (Weekly )
39. Kanpur - Anand Vihar Express (Weekly) Via Farrukhabad
40. Katihar - Howrah Express (Weekly) Via Malda Town
41. Katra - Kalka Express (Bi-weekly) Via Morinda
42. Kolkata - Agra Express (Weekly) Via Amethi, Rae Bareli,
43. Kolkata - Sitamarhi Express (Weekly) Via Jhajha, Barauni,
44. Kota - Jammu Tawi Express (Weekly) Via Mathura, Palwal
45. Kurnool Town - Secunderabad Express (Daily)
46. Lokmanya Tilak (T) - Kochuveli Express (Weekly)
47. Lucknow - Varanasi Express Via Rae-Bareli (6 Days a week)
48. Madgaon - Mangalore Intercity Express (Daily) Via Udupi,
49. Mangalore - Kacheguda Express (Weekly) Via Dhone, Gooty,
Renigunta, Coimbatore
50. Mau - Anand Vihar Express (Bi-weekly)
51. Mumbai - Solapur Express (6 Days a week) Via Pune
52. Nagercoil - Bangalore Express (Daily) Via Madurai,
53. New Delhi - Katra AC Express (6 Days a week)
54. Nizamabad - Lokmanya Tilak (T) Express (Weekly)
55. Patna - Sasaram Intercity Express (Daily) Via Ara
56. Patliputra (Patna) - Bangalore Express (Weekly) Via Chheoki
57. Puducherry - Kanniyakumari Express (Weekly) Via
Villupuram, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruchchirappalli
58. Puri - Sai Nagar Shirdi Express (Weekly) Via Sambalpur,
Titlagarh, Raipur, Nagpur, Bhusawal
59. Puri -Ajmer Express (Weekly) Via Abu-Road
60. Radhikapur - Anand Vihar Link Express (Daily)
61. Rajendra Nagar Terminus (Patna)- New Tinsukia Express
(Weekly) Via Katihar, Guwahati
62. Tirupati - Puducherry Express (Weekly)
63. Tirupati - Bhubaneswar Express (Weekly) Via Visakhapatnam 34
64. Una / Nangaldam- Hazoor Saheb Nanded Express (Weekly)
Via Anandpur Saheb, Morinda, Chandigarh, Ambala
65. Visakhapatnam - Jodhpur Express (Weekly) Via Titlagarh,
66. Visakhapatnam - Kollam Express (Weekly)
67. Yesvantpur - Lucknow Express (Weekly) via Rae Bareli,

Passenger trains

1. Bathinda - Dhuri Passenger (Daily)
2. Bikaner-Ratangarh Passenger (Daily)
3. Bhavnagar - Palitana Passenger (Daily)
4. Bhavnagar - Surendranagar Passenger (Daily)
5. Bareilly - Lalkuan Passenger (Daily)
6. Chhapra -Thawe Passenger (Daily)
7. Loharu - Sikar Passenger (Daily) after gauge conversion
8. Madgaon - Ratnagiri Passenger (Daily)
9. Marikuppam - Bangalore Passenger (Daily)
10. Muzaffarpur - Sitamarhi Passenger (Daily) via Runnisaidpur
11. Nadiad - Modasa Passenger (6 days a week)
12. Nandyal - Kurnool Town passenger (Daily)
13. New Amravati - Narkher Passenger (Daily)
14. Punalur - Kollam Passenger (Daily)
15. Purna - Parli Vaijnath Passenger (Daily)
16. Palani-Tiruchendur Passenger (Daily)
17. Ratangarh - Sardarsahar Passenger (Daily) after gauge
18. Samastipur- Banmankhi Passenger via Saharsa, Madhepura
(Daily) after gauge conversion
19. Shoranur - Kozhikode Passenger (Daily)
20. Surendranagar - Dharangdhara Passenger (Daily)
21. Suratgarh - Anupgarh Passenger (Daily)
22. Somnath - Rajkot Passenger (Daily)
23. Sitamarhi - Raxaul Passenger (Daily) 35
24. Sriganganagar - Hanumangarh-Sadulpur Passenger (Daily)
after gauge conversion
25. Talguppa - Shimoga Town Passenger (Daily)
26. Thrisur-Guruvayur Passenger (Daily)

MEMU services

1. Barabanki - Kanpur
2. Chennai - Tirupati
3. Delhi- Rohtak (Replacement of conventional service by
4. Lucknow - Hardoi
5. Sealdah - Berhampore Court

DEMU services

1. Bhatkal - Thokur
2. Delhi - Kurukshetra Via Kaithal
3. Katwa - Jangipur
4. Lucknow - Sultanpur
5. Lucknow - Pratapgarh Via Gauriganj
6. Madgaon - Karwar
7. Rohtak - Rewari
8. Taran Taran - Goindwal Saheb

Extension of trains

1. 19601/19602 Ajmer-New Jalpaiguri Express to Udaipur
2. 15715/15716 Ajmer-Kishanganj Express to New Jalpaiguri
3. 12403/12404 Allahabad - Mathura Express to Jaipur
4. 17307/17308 Bagalkot-Yesvantpur Express to Mysore
5. 18437/18438 Bhubaneswar - Bhawanipatna Express to
Junagarh 36
6. 18191/18192 Chhapra - Kanpur Anwarganj Express to
7. 16127/16128 Chennai-Madurai portion of Chennai-Guruvayur
Express to Tuticorin
8. 12231/12232 Chandigarh-Lucknow Express to Patna (2 days)
9. 12605/12606 Chennai-Tiruchchirappalli Express to Karaikudi
10. 14007/14008 Delhi-Muzaffarpur Express to Raxaul after gauge
11. 14017/14018 Delhi-Muzaffarpur Express to Raxaul after gauge
12. 12577/12578 Darbhanga-Bangalore Express to Mysore
13. 14731/14732 Delhi - Bathinda Express to Fazilka
14. 14705/14706 Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Sadulpur Express to
Sujangarh (Salasar Express)
15. 15159/15160 Durg- Chhapra Express to Muzaffarpur and
16. 12507/12508 Guwahati-Ernakulam Express to
17. 17005/17006 Hyderabad-Darbhanga Express to Raxaul after
gauge conversion
18. 17011/17012 Hyderabad- Belampalli Express to Sirpur
19. 16591/16592 Hubli-Bangalore Express to Mysore
20. 12181/12182 Jabalpur-Jaipur Express to Ajmer
21. 15097/15098 Jammu Tawi-Barauni Express to Bhagalpur
22. 13117/13118 Kolkata - Berhampore Court Express to Lalgola
23. 22981/22982 Kota-Hanumangarh Express to Shri Ganga Nagar
24. 15609/15610 Lalgarh- Guwahati Express to New Tinsukia
25. 12145/12146 Lokmanya Tilak (T)-Bhubaneswar Express to Puri
26. 12545/12546 Lokmanya Tilak (T)-Darbhanga Express to Raxaul
after gauge conversion
27. 12449/12450 Madgaon-Hazrat Nizamuddin Express to
28. 12653/12654 Mangalore - Tiruchchirappalli Express to
29. 29019/29020 Meerut-Nimach Link Express to Mandasor 37
30. 22107/22108 Mumbai CST-Latur Express to Hazoor Saheb
31. 14003/14004 New Delhi -New Farakka Express to Malda
32. 15723/15724 New Jalpaiguri-Darbhanga Express to Sitamarhi
33. 18419/18420 Puri-Darbhanga Express to Jaynagar
34. 19327/19328 Ratlam-Chittaurgarh Express to Udaipur
35. 13133/13134 Sealdah - Varanasi Express (2 Days) to Delhi via
Lucknow, Moradabad
36. 14711/14712 Shri Ganga Nagar - Haridwar Express to
37. 16535/16536 Solapur-Yesvantpur Express to Mysore
38. 19251/19252 Somnath-Dwarka Express to Okha
39. 12629/12630 Yesvantpur - Hazrat Nizamuddun Sampark
Kranti Express 2 days to Chandigarh
40. 59601/59602 Ajmer-Beawar Passenger to Marwar
41. 56513/56514 Bangalore-Nagore Passenger to Karaikal
42. 51183/51184 Bhusaval-Amravati Passenger to Narkher
43. 57502/57503 Bodhan-Kamareddi Passenger to Mirzapalli
44. 54632/54633 Dhuri-Hisar/ Hisar- Ludhiana Passenger to Sirsa
45. 56700/56701Madurai-Kollam Passenger to Punalur
46. 56709/56710 Madurai-Dindigul Passenger to Palani
47. 56275/56276 Mysore-Shimoga Town Passenger to Talguppa
48. 59297/59298 Porbander-Veraval Passenger to Somnath
49. 66611/66612 Ernakulam-Thrisur MEMU to Palakkad
50. 67277/67278 Falaknuma-Bhongir MEMU to Jangaon
51. 66304/66305 Kollam-Nagarcoil MEMU to Kanniyakumari
52. 63131/63132 Krishnanagar City-Berhampore Court MEMU to
Ranaghat and to Cossimbazar
53. 74021/74024 Delhi-Shamli DEMU to Saharanpur
54. 76837/76838 Karaikudi-Manamadurai DEMU to Virudunagar
after gauge conversion
55. 79454/79445 Morbi-Wankaner DEMU to Rajkot
56. 77676/77677 Miryalguda-Nadikudi DEMU to Piduguralla
57. 79301/79302 Ratlam-Chittaurgarh DEMU to Bhilwara 38

Increase in frequency

1. 12547/12548 Agra Fort -Ahmedabad Express 3 to 7 days
2. 11453/11454 Ahmedabad-Nagpur Express 2 to 3 days
3. 22615/22616 Coimbatore-Tirupati Express 3 to 4 days
4. 14037/14038 Delhi-Pathankot Express 3 to 6 days
5. 19409/19410 Gorakhpur - Ahmedabad Express 1 to 2 days
6. 13465/13466 Howrah - Malda Town Express 6 to 7 days
7. 12159/12160 Jabalpur - Amravati Express 3 to 7 days
8. 11103/11104 Jhansi - Bandra (T) Express 1 to 2 days
9. 19325/19326 Indore - Amritsar Express 1 to 2 days
10. 12469/12470 Kanpur - Jammu Tawi Express 1 to 2 days
11. 12217/12218 Kochuveli - Chandigarh Express 1 to 2 days
12. 12687/12688 Madurai - Dehradun/Chandigarh Express 1 to 2
13. 13409/13410 Malda Town - Jamalpur Express 6 to 7 days
14. 17213/17214 Narsapur - Nagersol (Near Sainagar Shirdi)
Express 2 to 7 days
15. 12877/12878 Ranchi-New Delhi Garib Rath Express 2 to 3 days
16. 18509/18510 Visakhapatnam - Hazoor Saheb Nanded Express
2 to 3 days
17. 22819/22820 Visakhapatnam - Lokmanya Tilak (T) Express 2
to 7 days
18. 18309/18310 Sambalpur-Hazoor Saheb Nanded Express 2 to 3
19. 12751/12752 Secunderabad - Manuguru Express 3 to 7 days
20. 12629/12630 Yesvantpur - Hazrat Nizamuddun Sampark
Kranti Express 2 to 4 days
21. 56221/56222/56525/56526 Bangalore - Tumkur Passenger 6 to
7 days
22. 56321 Kanniyakumari-Tirunelveli Passenger 6 to 7 days
23. 56325 Nagercoil - Kanniyakumari Passenger 6 to 7 days
24. 56312 Tirunelveli - Nagercoil Passenger 6 to 7 days 39