S. Harpal Singh

The Railways charge freight on the capacity of the wagon and not on the actual weight of the load

ADILABAD: Implementation of an `irrational' freight policy by the Railways since 2005 has so frightened the local cottonseed oil millers that they think twice before transporting oil cake to New Delhi and Jaipur on rail wagons. In fact, the Railways lost considerable business last season as it was shunned by the oil millers. However, owing to increase in diesel price and resultant increase in freight charged by lorries, the oil cake producers are left with no option.

"We now load the rakes rather grudgingly which is not a healthy sign for industrial development in this backward area. The 50 cottonseed crushing units locally produce about 1,400 tonnes of oil cake every day," disclosed Kanhaiyalal Makharia, president of the Cottonseed Oil Mills Association, Adilabad.

"Due to the peculiar space eating shape of the oil cake, a covered wagon of the goods train can accommodate only about 50 tonnes of the product while its given capacity is to hold 60 to 63 tonnes. The Railways charge freight on the capacity of the wagon and not on the actual weight of the load which results in oil millers paying about 20 per cent more freight charges," explained Mahender Dokwal, a local oil miller.

Plea to Railways

"For example, in December last we loaded 1,960 tonnes of oil cake in one rake and ended up paying freight for 2,520 tonnes which was the rake's actual capacity," Mr. Makhariya added.

The lorry freight now costs about Rs. 2,000 per tonne (up by almost Rs. 400), against the Rs. 1,600 per tonne levied by the Railways.

This still works out cheaper despite the irrational policy being in force.

However, in the interest of development of the backward area the association has pleaded for incentives in the shape of charging freight on the actual quantities loaded.

Adilabad has a potential of loading about 15 rakes per month which can mean a revenue of upto Rs. 3.5 crores to the Railways.

The association has also pleaded for according the piece-meal loading facility for smaller millers at Adilabad.