Farmers in India have been protesting vehemently ever since three controversial farm bills were passed without much debate in Parliament. President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent for the three contentious bills despite intensifying protests across the country by farmers and opposition political parties. The protest began on September 24, since then farmers are blocking roads and railways and going on several strikes like ‘rail roko’, ‘chakka jaam’, and earlier on September 25, 30 farmers’ groups have called for a total shutdown of services in Punjab.
Following this, The Railways highlighted the loss it has suffered is of Rs 2,220 crore, including Rs 67 crore in passenger revenue. It has affected 3,850 freight trains that could not be loaded. In addition to this 2,352 passenger trains have been cancelled or diverted so far.
The railway further said The deadlock between the protesting farmers and the Railways continued with the national transporter rejecting a proposal by the protestors that only freight trains will be allowed to run in the state. “The revenue loss due to cancellation of passenger trains is Rs 67 crore. The total loss of earnings at the IR level is Rs 2,220 crore.
The Northern Railways, which caters to the region, incurred a revenue loss of Rs 891 crore with an average loss of Rs 14.85 crore daily. From October 1 to November 19, the Railways’ freight loading suffered losses due to cancellations of trains and many being stranded in the outskirts of Punjab meant for Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir carrying essentials.
The Railways said around 230 loaded rakes for Punjab are currently held up outside the state. This includes 78 rakes of coal, 34 of fertilizer, eight of cement and petroleum, oil and lubricants, and 102 containers carrying steel and other commodities. Around 33 rakes are stuck in Punjab itself.
The more concerning issue is that goods trains have not entered Punjab for one-and-a-half months now, except for two days in late October, leading to a shortage of essential goods, including fertilizers needed for wheat sowing and coal supplies for thermal plants. Farm leaders say they have vacated the tracks, but some protests still continue at stations.
The Railways has maintained that it needs full guarantee from the state government that no trains will be disrupted and both passenger and freight trains would be allowed to operate. The farmers, however, have said that while they will allow goods trains, they can give no guarantee for passenger trains. Again on November 26 and 27 farmers will be reaching to National Capital as part of their “Delhi Chalo” march call.