December 2: Nepal Railway Company has asked for a budget of Rs 350 million with the government to operate two sets of trains stranded in Inaruwa for the last fourteen months. President Bidyadevi Bhandari issued the Railway Ordinance on Wednesday (December 1) which paved the way to operate these trains. But the company is still unable to operate the trains immediately due to lack of budget.
Niranjan Jha, general manager of the company, said that the legal hurdle has been removed to operate the railway service but the trains will run once the budget is released."We had written to the Ministry of Finance one and half months ago asking to release the budget. In response, the ministry said it will release the budget soon and asked us carry on the service with the company's budget for the time being," he added.
He claimed that if the budget is released soon, the railway service can begin within a few months. Nepal Railway Company needs to make payment of Rs 350 million to the Indian railway manufacturer Konkan and has to pay Rs100 million in taxes.
He said that the due amount has to be paid to 26 staffers of the Indian company Konkan required for the operation of the trains, as well as for equipment required for the technical tests. According to Jha, the budget is expected to be released in the next one week. He said that the technical aspects of railway operation will be tested and training will be provided to the employees once the budget is released.
The ordinance has paved the way to determine the railway fares and freight charges. Earlier, the Railway Bill was issued during the tenure of the outgoing Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli which was later scrapped. The government had purchased two trains at Rs 856 million and brought them to Nepal in September, 2020 and a test operation was also conducted. A total of Rs 1 billion has already been invested in the procurement along with the customs duty.