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Punjab farm protests: Railways incur loss to the tune of ₹1,200 crore

Farmers block railway tracks during a protest against the new farm bills, at Jandiala Guru in Amritsar, Punjab on October 29, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The loss suffered by the Railways due to the agitation in Punjab over the Cenral farm reform laws has already crossed an estimated ₹1,200 crore as protests on train tracks continued at 32 places across the State, the national transporter said on Wednesday.

Also read: Punjab CM stages dharna in Delhi, alleges step-motherly treatment by Centre

According to data from the national transporter, over 2,225 freight rakes carrying vital commodities could not be operated till date due to the blockades caused by the protestors. Around 1,350 trains have been forced to be cancelled or diverted, it said.

“Losses already expected to have crossed ₹1,200 crore as agitators continued dharna at platforms/near railway track. Train movement had to be suspended due to operational and safety considerations as agitators have suddenly stopped some train movement and sporadic blockades continued at various places especially around Jandiala, Nabha, Talwandi Sabo and Bathinda,” an official said.

“Due to the continued blockages at sections of tracks in Punjab, there has been a major adverse impact on freight movement and on availability of vital commodities for farm, industrial and infrastructure sector as well,” the official said.

Also read: Punjab passes its own three agriculture Bills

Later in a statement, the Railways said outward loading too has been affected from the Punjab area. Movement of foodgrain, container, automobile, cement, pet coke, fertilizer have also taken a hit, the statement said, adding the average loss of loading per day in Punjab was 40 rakes per day.

“Running trains with protestors sitting on the tracks or close to it is a dangerous situation. Trains drivers find it extremely hazardous to run in such situations,” it said.

Earlier, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had written to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh seeking assurance about safety of tracks and running staff to resume operations.

Also read: War of words over suspension of goods trains to Punjab

Amarinder stages dharna in Delhi

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, along with other leaders, participates in a protest against the recent farm reform bills, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Nov. 4, 2020.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, along with other leaders, participates in a protest against the recent farm reform bills, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Nov. 4, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday launched a dharna here to “save” his State and its farmers with a hard-hitting attack on the Centre, alleging “step-motherly” treatment towards Punjab.

Led by Mr. Singh, all Congress MLAs and MPs from Punjab staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

The Congress, many other Opposition parties and several farmers organisations have been protesting against the recent farm legislations, alleging that these will harm the interests of farmers and benefit corporates, a claim denied by the government.

The farmers’ agitation in Punjab began around September 24 when they started blocking railway tracks and stations demanding repeal of the three agriculture related bills. Farmers in Punjab have expressed apprehension that the Central farm reform laws would pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 3:10:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/punjab-farm-protests-railways-incur-loss-to-the-tune-of-1200-crore/article33022775.ece

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