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Congress demands immediate resumption of train services in Punjab

Congress flag. File   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

A delegation of Congress Lok Sabha MPs on Thursday met Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to press for the resumption of train services in Punjab as the suspension of goods trains has led to a power crisis and critical situation of essential supplies.

Rajya Sabha members and former Punjab Congress chiefs, Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo, who met the Railway Minister separately, also handed over a letter to Mr. Goyal in which they cautioned the Centre that “the country’s enemies can take advantage of the situation to foment trouble in the border State”.

Following the State-wide protests by farmers against the recently passed Central farm laws, the services including the movement of goods trains have been stopped. Though the services were initially stopped because of a blockade by farmers’ union, the Centre subsequently suspended passenger and freight trains over security concerns.

The stoppage has resulted in an acute shortage of fertilizers such as urea and DAP (diammonium phosphate) as well as gunny sacks that would affect the lifting of paddy crop arriving in the grain markets. Non-availability of coal supplies has affected power generation in the three thermal power plants and nearly 15,000 containers of State industry are estimated to be stuck.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had claimed that there were no blockades by farmers on any rail route any longer and had urged the Railways to resume services immediately.

“We met the Railway Minister and had a candid exchange of views. He explained his situation and we explained our concerns as well as the ground situation. We urged him to advise his Ministry to work with the Punjab govt. to ensure the services are restored at the earliest,” Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari told The Hindu.

The Railways had not resumed the services over security concerns and the safety of its staff and property.

“The CM has written to the Railways Minister and assured all possible cooperation within the parameters of the prevailing situation to facilitate the smooth movement of trains,” he said.

Besides Mr. Tewari, The delegation of the Lok Sabha members included Preneet Kaur, Jasbir Singh Gill, Santokh Chaudhary, Mohammad Sadique, Amar Singh and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

The delegation of the Rajya Sabha MPs asked for the immediate intervention of the Railway Minister to resume freight trains to ‘de-escalate’ tensions.

“We have witnessed peace for the last 25 years in Punjab due to the focus on the economic and social development. Prolonged interruption of economic activity will only lead to a rise in tensions. As we mentioned earlier, our enemies may use this opportunity to sow further distrust between individuals and the government of India,” Mr. Bajwa and Mr. Dullo said in their letter.

14 blockades were removed

Railway Board Chairman V.K. Yadav on Thursday said the Punjab government has assured all blockades on rail premises by protesters will be cleared by Friday morning.

Stating that the Railways will be able to run trains as soon as the blockages are cleared, Mr. Yadav said 14 blockades were removed by Thursday evening, but 17 remained.

The Chairman said a joint team of State officials and the RPF had been formed to conduct ground surveys to ascertain if it was safe to run trains.

“We have been assured by the Punjab government that all blockades will be removed by Friday morning. Fourteen blockades have been removed already.... Our maintenance teams are ready. As soon as tracks are under rail control, we will run trains,” he said.

(With inputs from Yuthika Bhargava)

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 8:23:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/congress-demands-immediate-resumption-of-train-services-in-punjab/article33032780.ece

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