A status paper on the functioning of railways, presented in the Lok Sabha today, seeks to puncture former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav's claims of turning around the railways with a record profit.
The performance was in fact "below par" from 2004-05 to 2008-09, when the RJD chief was at the helm of the railways, the white paper laid before the house by railway minister and Trinamool Congress boss Mamata Banerjee claimed.
"Analysis of the overall growth of railways during the period shows that the performance was below par if the normally accepted growth elasticity of 1.25 is reckoned," the report, tabled amid a din and in the presence of Lalu Prasad, said.
The actual position of the state of finances of Indian Railways does not endorse the claims of turnaround during the five-year tenure of Prasad, says the report. It elaborates that changes were made in the accounting procedures during his tenure to show some questionable cash surpluses, which were also not kept in reserve but spent.
Tabled amid furore by some members, along with a "Vision 2020" document on short-to-long-term targets, the white paper also says excessive money was charged for schemes such as 'tatkal' even as punctuality took a beating during the period.
"The traffic growth performance has been below par for the entire period," says the report, while dealing with the record of Indian Railways over the past five years ended 31 March 2009.