As the countdown begins for the presentation of the Union Budget for fiscal 2023-24, citizens across a wide spectrum of the society have put forward their expectations.
The Union Budget, also comprising the Railway Budget, will be presented on the floor of the Parliament on February 1, Wednesday. Like the previous two Union Budgets, the one for fiscal 2023-24 will also be presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in paperless form.
ANI reached out to a few people at the Patna junction on their ideas and expectations around the Budget this year.
"The Railways should see that train fares don't go up. Also, the fare increases over the last few years should be controlled. While the rate of platform tickets has been reduced from Rs 50 to Rs 10, we want it to be reduced further," said MD Sanjay, a passenger at Patna junction.
The passengers also demonstrated a lot of enthusiasm and excitement around the Vande Bharat trains and the Bullet Train project. Many said Vande Bharat trains should ply from all capital cities of the country.
Another passenger at the Patna junction station said they were hopeful of the government introducing the Bullet Train project soon and conceive more such projects in the coming years.
"The Railways still need to pay a lot of attention to cleanliness of the trains. Also, the trains that were stopped at the time of Covid should be made operational again," said Rajan Kumar, another passenger.
Regular railway passengers also demanded an increase in the number of trains across the country.
Students demanded that the Railways run separate trains to make it easier for them to appear for outstation exams.
They said they often have to travel to other cities for sit for competitive or other exams and find it tough to book seats in regular passenger trains.
Women passengers said the Railway authorities should strive more to ensure their safety.
Passengers further said the Railway Budget should also focus on ensuring provision of better food in trains.
Meanwhile, railway passengers in the nartional capital, New Delhi, said they expect more budgetary funds to be allocated for passenger safety and cleanliness.
Deepak Sharma, a passenger at New Delhi Railway station, said, "I want the government to ensure passenger security and they should also invest more money in securing the railway network and making it less prone to accidents. The number and frequency of trains should also increase."
Bhawana Sharma, another commuter at New Delhi Railway station, said safety of women passengers and catering to their hygiene should feature prominently in the Budget.
"I feel safety and security (of women passengers) should be the main focus of the Budget. Women's hygiene on trains should also be in focus. I feel the trains don't have enough facilities for parents who travel with their children. There is no secure facility for a mother to breastfeed her child. Such facilities should be introduced on priority," she said.
Pooja, another passenger, said security at platforms and in trains should be enhanced and more funds should be pumped in to ensure cleanliness of Railway properties.
"I feel better security and cleanliness will make for a better passenger experience," she said.
Pramod Mishra, another railway passenger, said, "Majority of railway passengers are from middleclass backgrounds. I think there should be more security for passengers on trains and their nsatination needs should also be catered to. There are many trains where water isn't available in adequate quantities."
Rishikesh, another passenger, more funds should be allotted to improve the overall experience of travelling by trains.
"A problem that railway passengers are often confronted with is that they don't tickets when they want them for an urgent travel. I feel the government can do more to introduce more trains. There should enough trains on the grid to ensure that passengers can book seats as and when they want and travel comfortably. Security in trains and at stations should also be a top priority. The government should also work to improve the frequency of trains. More often than not, the trains are found to be running late," he said.
Meanwhile, homemakers said rising inflation is eating into their household budgets, making it difficult for them to put a leash on their expenses. They said the rising prices of essential food items and LPG cylinders have added to their woes.
The Budget document will be available on the 'Union Budget Mobile App' on both the Android and Apple OS platforms after the completion of the Budget Speech by the Finance Minister in Parliament on February 1.
Budget 2023 will be to be the last full Budget of the Modi government in its second term, with the next Lok Sabha election due in April-May of 2024. (ANI)