Budget 2018: Exemption on interest income for senior citizens hiked to Rs50,000

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All eyes will be set as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presents the Union Budget 2018-19 today in Parliament.

Arun Jaitley said that 18,000 km of doubling, third and fourth line works and 5,000 kilometers of gauge conversion would augment capacity and transform nearly the entire network into broad gauge.

India's government began unveiling its 2018/19 federal budget on Thursday aiming for stronger economic growth to win over voters ahead of a national election next year while trying to maintain fiscal restraint. Mr Jaitley will present the Union Budget first in the Lok Sabha and then in the Rajya Sabha. The Finance Minister also said that 90 km of double line tracks are being added to Mumbai's transport system at a cost of over Rs 11,000 crore.

The minister also announced use of "new innovative" monetising structures, such as toll, operate and transfer (TOT) and infrastructure investment funds (InvITs) by the National Highway Authority of India for raising equity from the market for its road assets which have matured by turning them into special objective vehicles (SPVs). This amount is almost five times the allocation of Rs 200.11 crore as per the revised estimates of 2017-18. "Maintenance of track infrastructure is being given special attention".

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The FM announced that Wi-Fi, CCTVs will be provided in every station and escalators will be provided in stations with more than 25,000 footfall. Besides, 4,267 unmanned level crossings in the broad gauge network would be removed over the next two years to eliminate possibility of road-rail collisions.

The minister also pointed out that 600 stations have been earmarked for modernisation by the railways.

In addition, a new institute is to come up at Vadodara to train manpower for high-speed rail networks.

UDAN, the regional airport development scheme launched in 2017, will connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads in the country, said Mr. Jaitley.