The Centre must ensure that there are no delays in filling vacancies in the Railways, the Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Railways M Vijayakumar said.
Speaking after inaugurating the Thiruvananthapuram divisional meeting of the All Kerala Loco Running Staff Association here on Monday, he said that the Railways is on a spree to cut down on employees, despite the increasing demand for trains from members of the public. “The privatization efforts in the sector would affect Kerala in a big way. It is unclear why the Centre wants to privatize Indian Railways, which is running at a profit.”
He reiterated the demand for a dedicated railway zone for the State, so that Kerala gets her rightful share of rail-development projects. The State would hand over 426 acres to the Railways to establish a coach factory in Palakkad. The Centre must clarify its stand on whether it would be operated on the public-private partnership model. The State Government must also be given a stake in running the project, Mr Vijayakumar said.
Referring to the delay in beginning work on the Kochi metro-rail project, he said that the Centre is yet to give the final nod for the project. The State Government has earmarked sufficient funds in the budget for the project so that work on putting up basic infrastructure can begin.
Representatives of the association affirmed their demand for 8-hour duty and a rest day every week for loco staff.
They also demanded scientific charting out of crew link so that it does not affect their health and also does not eat into the time that they get to spend with their families.
Former MP, K. Chandran Pillai and the Central zone vice-president of the association K. A. S. Mani too spoke.