In technical sense, Railway Budget is an annual financial statement that shows estimated receipts and expenditures related to the Indian Railways in the coming financial year.
However, in the real sense, it is treated as a key policy document that unveils the Government’s initiatives and programmes related to the development of the Indian Railways.
Railway Budget is a unique feature of the Indian Parliamentary system. Probably, India is the only country in the world to have a budget dealing with a specific segment of the transport sector. A separate budget for the Railways also signifies the fact that the central role the Railways play in the economic and social life of the country.
Key facts related to Indian Railway Budget
• A separate Railway Budget, which is different from the General Budget, was first introduced in 1924 on the basis of recommendations of the 10-member Acworth Committee.
• The committee, which submitted its report in 1921, was headed by British railway economist William Mitchell Acworth. It was appointed by the British Government to suggest measures for improving financial performance of the Railways.
• It is presented by the Union Railway Minster annually as a money bill in the Lok Sabha. The first ever live telecast of the Railway budget took place on 24 March 1994.
• Though the term Railway Budget is no where mentioned in the Constitution of India, it is introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha under the Articles 112 and 204 of the Constitution that govern the General Budget.
• Usually, the Rail budget is presented annually few days prior to the presentation of the General Budget. It precedes the submission of the Economic Survey of the previous financial year.
• The Indian Railways is one the largest Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) in India. It holds the distinction of providing employment to around 1.36 million.
• The first passenger train under the tag name of Indian Railways ran on 16 April 1853 between Bombay and Thane in present day Maharashtra.
• The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) located in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi introduced Computer reservation system for the first time in July 1986.
• Lalu Prasad Yadav holds the record of presenting the budget for six years in a row. He was the Union Minister of Railways between 2004 and 2009 under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government.
• In 2002, Mamata Banerjee became the first women minister to present the budget. She also holds the distinction of presenting the budget under two different governments – National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the UPA.
• In 2014, Railway Minister D V Sadananda Gowda presented the first railway budget, under the NDA Government headed by Narendra Modi.
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