Monday, July 1, 2019

PROTEST THE 100 DAYS’ ACTION PROGRAM 

A HASTY STEP FOR RAILWAY PRIVATISATION 

All India Loco Running Staff Association calls up on entire railwaymen and rail users to oppose the privatisation measures incorporated in the 100 days Action Plan proposed by the Ministry of Railways with the approval of the Minister for Railways. The Railway Board vide letter dated 18.06.2019 has directed that immediate action to be taken to implement the Action Plan by 31st August 2019. 

The eleven-point action plan is in the direction of unbundling of railways and restructuring recommended by Bibek Debroy committee with a changed nomenclature that used by Debroy committee. 

1. Passenger trains for sale ? 

The Action Plan proposes for operating private passenger trains. Within 100 days 2 passenger trains will be offered to IRCTC which is a corporation under railway board which would provide ticketing and on-board services. These trains will run on the important routes like Golden Quadrilateral and Diagonals and connecting major cities. In fact, it is a conspiracy. Being IRCTC is a corporation under the same management of Railway board, the terms and conditions of lease will be liberal and later the same terms and condition will be adopted as a precedence allowing the private operators to loot the people as well as Indian railways. It may be noted that the routes proposed for private passenger trains are the profit-making routes of Indian railways. The proposal of spending an amount of Rs. 13490 Crores for improvement of the two routes proposed for privatisation is nothing but spending the public money for the benefit of private players, that too when the government is pleading paucity of fund for railway development. 

We saw similar abundancy in fund in earlier occasions for projects which are beneficial to corporates. In Kerala when the Vizhinjam port was handed over to Adani, the Khajana of surface transportation ministry got huge surplus to flood it for development of roads to the port. 

It is reported that the government wants to hand over the running of premium trains including the Rajdhani and Shatabdi express trains to private operators, for which tenders would be floated within four months. 

There is no doubt that all popular trains, superfast trains and express trains will follow the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains. 

2. Give up subsidy a campaign against the poor 

Hiking Railway fares is also on the cards. The government wants to reduce the subsidies through a ‘Give it up’ campaign. This is a trump card played by the same Government to create an awareness against the subsidy on LPG, - there the poverty of rural women was projected. What will be the Mantras in case of Railways is yet to be seen. It is decided that Railway itself will propagate the campaign for ‘give up subsidy’ through Print, Visual and Social Media. In a calculated move Railway ministry had decided recently to hand over the propaganda wing of public relations department to private and tenders are floated ie. The corporate will design the propaganda against subsidy using public money, against the interest of the public, advocating hike in fare and promoting private trains. 

Bibek Debroy had criticised that cross subsidy for Passenger service from Goods revenue is the main hurdles for Private entry in train operation. In nut shell the Corporates will campaign against subsidy using Railway money for their benefits. It is important to note that overwhelming majority of the railway passengers today belong to the poor and low-income sections. We are seeing 300 to 400 passengers travelling in general Coaches run continuously for two to three days. Railways are running Andyodaya trains having second class sitting coaches alone between stations 1500 to 2000 Kms away and they remain over crowded. Providing cheap and affordable travel is the Constitutional responsibility of the Government. Reducing subsidies and raising fares is nothing but a ploy to favour the private operators who would be operating the trains only for profits. The Government which came to power with the votes of the common people and the poor has, within less than a month, started imposing burdens on the common people, just to pay back their bosses, the big Corporates, domestic and foreign. The campaign against passenger fare subsidy is nothing but a fatal blow to the rural poor those who lost their lively hood due to agrarian crisis. Denial of cross subsidy prevent them moving to urban cities to retain their lives. 

3. IRRSC – a master plan to convert 3 lakh railway employees to company employees 

Another proposal in the Action Plan is the seperation of the production units from Indian Railways. The 7 production units including the associated workshops are proposed to be ‘hived off’ to the ‘Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company’. This is nothing but an attempt to hand over and outsource production to the private players killing our public sector’s indigenous manufacturing capacity. The only difference with Debroy is that he suggested the name “Indian Railway Manufacturing Company” (IRMC) instead of “Rolling Stock Company.” Though all the units come under one company, all should function as individual profit centre. Definitely the CPC scale of pay and allowance, the status as Government employee will be lost for the company (IRRSC) employees in future. Employees of BSNL, VSNL and MTNL were government employees and covered under central pay commissions upto 4th CPC. They were converted as company employees and now struggling to get their wages. 

4. Declaration of safety measures – a sugar coating for poison 

There are many proposals for safety augmentation in 100 days action programme. But it is the experience of the running staff that, the recommendations against the employees were implemented on a war-foot measure, but others will crawl at a snail’s pace. The fund for elimination of LC gates – Rs.50000 crores, should come from Govt. of India and sanction for spectrum for improvement of signals should come from telecom ministry. Debroy committee, in other words NITI AYOG has ruled out any Government funding for railway development. The telecom department is denying 3G and 4G spectrum to BSNL to promote the private ie. The declaration for railway development will not happen but privatisation will go ahead. 

5. Consultation with trade unions – a dishonest move 

The proposal to consult the trade unions appears to be only an eye wash. Till today, the Modi government, in its earlier avatar as well as since it returned to power, has been blatantly ignoring the voices of the trade unions on many issues. In fact all the central trade unions have been consistently opposing privatisation of the public sector undertakings. But this government has already declared privatisation of 46 PSUs despite this opposition. 

6. Clarion call for united action 

AILRSA strongly condemn and demand to do away with the above proposal, and understood that it is the duty of AILRSA to do whatever possible to stop the privatisation and pledge to do so. We also understand it is a task to be undertaken by the railway workers as a whole and plead all trade unions of railwaymen to unite and fight privatisation. 

AILRSA plead before all rail users, passenger associations and all democratic forces to join hands to protect the cheapest mode of transportation in India. 

Central Committee,

All India Loco Running Staff Association, 

Ghaziabad, New Delhi. 







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