Union Railway and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday once again asked the Captain Amarinder Singh-led government to remove protesters from rail tracks and railway properties, so that the railways as soon as possible for the betterment of the people and passenger service and Could start the freight work smoothly. On Thursday, Congress and BJP leaders met the Railway Minister separately and requested Goyal to intervene to restore train service in Punjab and said that the postponement of service was affecting the economy of the state.
Goyal said in a tweet, “Railways are ready to start operations in Punjab. Provided that the Punjab government assures the safety of train operations and free the railway tracks from protesters.”
The Congress’ Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs met Goyal in two groups in New Delhi to press for immediate resumption of freight trains, but both sides stuck to their stated positions. Eight Congress MPs including Congress MPs Parneet Kaur, Manish Tiwari, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, RavneetBittu, GurjitAujla, Dr Amar Singh, JasbirDimpa and Mohammad Sadik from Punjab and two Rajya Sabha members Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dulo met the Railway Minister at different times. The MPs handed over a letter from Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in which he assured to protect the property of the railway. The Punjab CM in his letter requesting restoration of rail service in Punjab, said, “We will deploy adequate police and security personnel to ensure complete security of railway personnel and property”.
Sources also claim that MPs Bittu, Chaudhary and Aujla walked out of the meeting with the Railway Minister in between. They said that despite getting assurance from the Punjab Chief Minister, the Railway Minister is not resuming rail services. He is looking at the serious issue from a political perspective, so they left the meeting in the middle.
A BJP delegation which included, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, the party’s national general secretary TarunChugh, spokesperson RP Singh and Punjab unit president Ashwani Sharma met Railway Minister over the suspension of goods and passenger trains due to farmers’ agitation in Punjab and demanded his intervention to end the “dire conditions before Punjabis” during the festive season.
The Railway Minister was apprised that the ongoing peasant movement in the state had badly affected passenger and freight services for more than a month. As a result, the state is now facing an acute shortage of coal, fertilizer, cement, POL, containers and steel. Production has come to a standstill in thermal power plants and other industries.
Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said that the Punjab government has assured the railways that all the barriers installed by the protesters in the railway premises will be removed by Friday morning. Yadav said that a joint team of RPF along with state officials has been formed to conduct a ground survey to ascertain whether it is safe to run trains. It is to be noted that Power generation has come to a standstill due to the depletion of coal stock in thermal plants of Punjab due to disrupted rail services for the last 42 days. Cities are facing 2-4 hours of power cuts while rural areas are facing power cuts of 6 to 8 hours. The farmers face a crisis of urea, seeds of DAP and rabi crops while industries are facing difficulty in supplying raw materials and sending finished goods to other states and ports for export.