The Central government is moving to hand over some Railway lines and running of some trains to private players. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal stated that it will increase competition and improve customer satisfaction.
This move is dangerous and against the interest of the people. The British Government in India has taken over the Railways from East India Company and has been running it as a government department. It is the biggest organisation in the country covering the entire nation and serving crores of people every day. Railways have its weakness and inefficiency, which necessarily has to be attended to. The poor people use it for their travel at low cost. It connects the entire country, which is used for travel by people as also for transporting goods.
Already the government has started process of privatisation of Railway Station in the name of modernization, through which the private companies will be able to monetise the land near stations for malls and business purposes and garner huge profits. Just like the private airports like Delhi, Mumbai etc. the cost for every thing inside the Stations will increase.
Any privatisation of Railways is going to increase the travel and transportation charges which will be beyond the ability of the ordinary people to bear. May be better conveniences will be arranged for those who can pay, but trains will be out of reach of the poor people. Prices of all commodities will increase because of the increase in transportation charges. Competition by private companies are sure to increase accidents and derangement as in the case of road traffic. The move of privatisation of Railways is most dangerous and anti-national.
When the British Government privatised their Railways, the service became inefficient and costly resulting in agitation demanding take over by the government. If that is the state in a small country like England, what will be the situation in a large country like India?
Mighty strong protest actions are required against this anti-people move of the government.
As part of implementing the Bibek Debroy report, central government is proposing to privatise many railway stations in the name of modernisation, providing more facilities etc. Chennai and Kozhikode are two of these railway stations.
The intention is to hand over the railway stations to the private so that the latter can utilise the land, construct buildings, do their business and garner huge profit. They will loot the travellers by increasing price for everything in the station, including food. The hard experience of the privatisation of airports is before us.
This attack on the Railways and the public/travellers has to be opposed and defeated as was done in the case of privatisation of Chennai and Kolkata airports by the people of T.Nadu and W.Bengal. It is appreciated that the trade unions, on the initiative of the railway unions, have opposed the anti-worker anti-people decision.
Modi Government is moving towards privatisation of railways and defence Production, which are national assets and have high security risk.An extract from the Website post of Confederation of CG Employees and Workers is given below for information. The Central Government employees are going on strike on 16th March 2017 on demands including the above as also against the retrograde recommendations of the VII CPC and demanding minimum wage etc.
ATTACK ON RAILWAYS.
After the Narendra Modi Government coming to power 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is allowed in Railways. A committee headed by Sri Bibek Deb Roy , Member , NITI Ayog (National Institute for Transformation of India Ayog) was appointed for restructuring of Railways. The committee recommended complete privatisation of Railways. AIRF in its resolution adopted in the 92nd Annual Conference held at Allahabad from 8th to 10th December 2016, stated as follows:
“NDA Government assumed power on 26th May 2014. The General Body meeting of AIRF held on 3rd and 4th July 2016 at Chennai, decided to defer the strike decision to provide time to the new Government to settle and resolve grievances. But the same Government by a notification dated 22nd August 2014, decided to induct 100% FDI in Indian Railways, Defence establishments etc. The Government appointed a high level Railway Restructuring Committee, on 22nd September 2014, headed by Sri Bibek Deb Roy, for restructuring Railways. The same committee had drawn a road map for privatisation and went ahead gradually, despite all out protest by AIRF. ”
The merger of the Railway Budget with the General Budget was one of the key recommendations on Bibek Deb Roy committee, as an important step towards privatisation of Railways. Government has implemented the decision from this year onwards, on top priority basis. It is also reported in the media that Government has decided to privatise heritage and tourist Railways like Kalka – Shimla, Siliguri – Darjeeling and Nilgiri (Ootty) railways. BIBEK DEB ROY COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS ARE THE BEGIN ING OF THE END OF THE GOVT OWNED INDIAN RAILWAYS.
To add insult to injury, the Railway Board has issued orders curtailing the basic trade union rights of Railway employees. AIRF circular issued on 2nd February 2017 reads as follows:
“In continuation of our earlier letter of even no. dated 1st February 2017, you are advised to observe “Black Day” on 6th February 2017 wearing black badges/ribbons, right from branch to zonal levels, at all important offices of your Railway administrations, DEMANDING WITHDRAWAL OF RAILWAY BOARD’S LETTER DATED 31.01.2017, WHEREIN THE BOARD HAVE DECIDED TO DEBAR SUPERVISORS (IN ERSTWHILE GRADE PAY OF 4200) WORKING IN SAFETY CATEGORIES FROM TRADE UNION.
ATTACK ON DEFENCE SECTOR
The situation in Defence sector is also not different. All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) in its circular dated 04.02.2017, has conveyed the following developments to its rank and file:
“The ordnance factories are under severe attack due to the policies being adopted by the BJP – led NDA Government. Instead of developing and strengthening the ordnance factories, the Govt. is disowning the same and is planning fully to proceed to weaken the ordnance factories. Licences are being given to private companies for defence manufacturing including for those products which are being manufactured in the ordnance factories.”
In a meeting of Senior Officers held on 5th January 2017, the Secretary, Ministry of Defence made the following comments –
“You have to reduce the cost, otherwise you will not get workload in future, you have to compete with the private sector for getting workload. Two years is the period for ordnance factories.”
Recently Sri Manohar Parikar, Defence Minister , who visited AFK Pune , in the meeting held with unions has stated that —” Factories which are manufacturing clothing and leather items are not required in the Government. These items can easily be procured from private sector.”
The proposal of corporatisation (which is a step towards privatisation) is also under consideration with Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Govt has constituted another committee to identify low technology/noncore items. It is seen from the press reports that a committee constituted by Defence Minister under the chairmanship of one retired IIM Professor has recommended for creation of a new independent organisation outside the Ministry of Defence to undertake defence procurement. It is understood that a new organisation tentatively called the “DEFENCE ACQUISITION AUTHORITY” will be fully responsible for the entire process of acquisition.
The Central Cabinet has
decided to discontinue the practice of presenting separate budget for Railways, thus changing the 92 year practice of separate budget. The reason mentioned is that the relevancy of separate budget is over, and unlike earlier. Railways budget was more or equal to the general budget earlier.
There are several questions which have to be answered. Whether the priority of Railways has declined? Whether a strategic change is going to come over the governance of the Railways, including corporatisation and privatisation as implemented in the telecom sector? Whether this will result in steep hike of the railway charges hitting the ordinary traveller?
A thorough study by experts is necessary. All or some of the above may result due to the present decision.
According to an RTI reply, there are 13,75,483 Railways Pensioners at present, out of which 2.86 lakhs are in the range of 80-90 years old. The total number of pensioners in Railways are liable to be more than the existing workers. This is mainly because, the retirements are more comparing to the new recruitment. This is the condition of most of the central government establishments. It was reported earlier that while there are about 40 lakh CG employees, the pensioners number is around 52 lakh.
In order to improve the services, fresh blood is required and there should be adequate recruitment. There should be strong pressure from the unions for increased recruitment. The ban on recruitment should be rescinded. It will result in jobs for the youngsters who are jobless. Is the government hearing?
Indian Railways, the biggest industry/service in the country, will not buy oil from the biggest corporate in India. This is part of the gradual privatisation/ private entry of the railways. Till now, Railways was purchasing oil from the PSUs only. BJP government is repaying the corporates for the support and election funds given by them. The press report in this connection is given below:
“NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries Ltd, controlled by India’s richest man, has started selling diesel to the state railways for the first time since 2005/06 after pricing of the fuel was freed, a company source said on Wednesday.
Indian Railways, the country’s biggest diesel guzzler, consumes up to 2.5 million tonnes of the fuel each year. Until last year, it received supplies from state refiners who used to be compensated for selling fuel at below-market rates.”
It is reported that Railways is in acute shortage of wagons to carry goods, especially coal. As per the Railways Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu, more than 2,000 additional wagons are required. The tenders are yet to be finalised.
It seems that the BSNL example is being repeated here. Making shortage of required wagons, the railways will be in difficulty. And then running of goods trains can be taken over by the private corporates. There is every chance that the shortage is planned to weaken Railways, as it was done to BSNL by cancelling the tender for required mobile connections, which was the main reason for starting of its down fall.
The Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu has stated that there will be no privatisation of the Railways. Well and Good!
The strong opposition of the Railway workers had its immediate effect. But any time,the proposal for privatisation can come, because it is the policy of the government.
The Railways Minister has constituted a Council called ‘Kaya Palp Council’ for the giving recommendations to improve the Railways service. Mr. Ratan Tata is the Chairman. Com Shiv Gopal Mishra, Secretary General AIRF and Shri M.Raghaviah, Secretary General NFIR are members of the Council. Workers participation is included in the Council. Hearty Congratulations to the comrades selected in the council.
Let us hope that some serious work will be done by the Council