Suresh Prabhu



AS POWER MIN­IS­TER IN NDA-I, Suresh Prabhu pi­o­neered the land­mark Elec­tric­ity Act of 2003 which set the stage for re­forms in the power sec­tor. Helm­ing an­other crit­i­cal min­istry now, Prabhu con­tin­ues on the path of re­form. Ten­ders are now floated in six months (down from two years), with e-ten­ders ush­er­ing in trans­parency. He has mooted an in­de­pen­dent reg­u­la­tor, the Rail­way De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, to fix prices and reg­u­late poli­cies, dis­man­tled a thriv­ing il­le­gal trans­fer-post­ing in­dus­try and merged the rail bud­get with the Union bud­get. There are, how­ever, se­ri­ous is­sues of safety—de­rail­ments last year killed over 115 peo­ple. Much of the dam­age was down to age­ing in­fra­struc­ture and a fleet of over 40,000 coaches with­out safety fea­tures. Slug­gish core sec­tor growth di­rectly im­pacted the rail­ways’ core earn­ing—freight. This even as a record Rs 1.31 lakh crore be­tween 2017 and 2018 was al­lo­cated to dou­bling ex­ist­ing tracks, elec­tri­fy­ing old ones and con­vert­ing old lines to broad guage. Prabhu ap­proved two new lo­co­mo­tive fac­to­ries in Bi­har, one of the largest FDIs in In­dia, the com­bined book or­ders worth over Rs 40,000 crore. The full im­pact of the re­struc­tur­ing will be felt by 2020. By then, the Ded­i­cated Freight Cor­ri­dor, over 3,000 km of high speed rail tracks, should ma­te­ri­alise.

“We are com­pletely over­haul­ing the rail­ways. It’s not plas­tic surgery, it is or­gan re­place­ment.”

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