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Railways to ban sale of soft drinks

NDA blamed for "miserable condition" of Railways

CHHINDWARA (M.P.): Railway Minister Lalu Prasad on Saturday announced that the sale of soft drinks would be banned on trains and in stations and indigenous products would replace them.

"A ban will be imposed on serving of cold drinks in trains and railway stations," he told a public meeting after laying the foundation stone of the Rs. 384-crore Chhindwara-Nagpur broad-gauge line project.

"Passengers would be treated to milk, butter-milk and other such drinks in trains," said Mr. Prasad, who had introduced `kulhars' (earthern cups) for serving tea to passengers soon after he took over last year. The Minister, however, did not specify when the proposed ban would come into effect.

`No' to privatisation

Talking to reporters later, Mr. Prasad ruled out the privatisation of Railways. "The National Democratic Alliance government had initiated steps towards privatising the railways, but the United Progressive Alliance would not allow it at any cost," he said.

Due to the "wrong policies" of the NDA Government the Railways was in a "miserable condition" and the country lagged in rail operations, he said. Affirming the Centre's determination to make Indian Railways the "number one" rail network in the world, the Minister said talks had been held with German leaders in this regard.

Parallel lines would be laid between Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai exclusively for goods trains. Funds would be obtained from Germany at low interest, he said.

On the formation of a Government in Bihar and Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan's demand for appointing a Muslim Chief Minister, Mr. Prasad said the Lok Jan Shakti Party MLAs had "deserted" Mr. Paswan, depriving him of the chance to form a government.

PTI

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