Forty Years Ago, February 20, 1981: Rail fares hiked

The Railway Minister delivered a staggering blow to all categories of railway users by announcing savage freight and fare increases totalling Rs 356.25 crore. This is the third successive year that freight rates and passenger fares have been raised. Last year, Kamlapati Tripathi had “with a heavy heart” revised rates and fares to collect Rs 204 crores. His successor, Kedar Pandey used a heavy hand to net Rs 356 crores, in the 1981-82 rail budget presented by him to the Lok Sabha. The budget anticipates a nominal surplus of Rs 11.42 crore in 1981-82, a promise which, like in past years could turn sour by the year-end, judging from the continuing poor performance of the railways. Pandey informed the House that because of a freight loading shortfall of 19.5 million tonnes in the current year, the budgeted surplus of Rs 42.71 crore was being converted into a Rs 52.34 crore deficit.

Assam Compromise

The Assam agitation leaders are still reluctant to agree to 1967 as the cut-off year which the government has offered them as a compromise date for the detection of foreigners, it is learnt. The argument of agitators — conveyed through the mediators — is that Governor L P Singh had mentioned to them 1967 as the cut-off year more than 11 months ago. They had rejected it at that time; if they were to accept it now, they would face an angry public in Assam. There is a possibility of the two sides making further adjustments: The students who have accepted 1961 as the cut-off year going beyond and the government going to a year earlier than 1967.

Dacoits Strike Again

Even as the district administration claimed to have deployed additional forces to combat the dacoits menace in the ravines of the Jamuna, the dacoits have struck once again. The dacoits from the Jamuna have joined hands to teach Shri Ram Singh a lesson as he violated the dacoit code while killing the dacoit chief Vikram and later challenged the gang of Ram Autar and Phoolan Devi to a duel.

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