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Punjab farmers’ stir costs railways 26 crore a day | India News


NEW DELHI/ PATIALA: The Indian Railways has so far incurred loss of at least Rs 1,670 crore, which is nearly Rs 26 crore a day, due to the ongoing farmers’ protest in Punjab. Moreover, because of the ongoing stalemate 3,090 freight trains could not be operated for transportation of essential commodities such as foodgrains, fertiliser, coal and petroleum products.
Till Monday late night, there was no sign of the rail operations resuming in the state as the protesters were still in the circulation areas of stations at 25 sites even after vacating the railway tracks. “There is no assurance on the running of passenger trains. They want only freight trains to operate, but railways can’t let anyone pick and choose. It’s dangerous as well because many maintenance trains are passenger rakes. Threat of protestors coming in way of those trains can lead to disastrous consequences,” said a railway official, who did not wish to be identified.
Sources said the situation is becoming more serious as the protests have a direct impact on the movement of essential commodities, including fuel to Jammu and Kashmir and of essential supplies to meet the requirement of defence forces. Official data show that because of the protest, the railways could not operate 520 rakes to transport coal and 1,150 rakes for movement of foodgrains.
The last unit operational in the government-run Lehra Mohabbat thermal power plant has suspended operations on the instructions of Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) to save coal for emergency situations. The power demand in Punjab has also declined to around 4,000 MW. Punjab has five thermal power plants, including two government-run. All three private plants have shut down operations due to non-availability of coal. The two state-run plants did keep a single unit operational to meet the power demand, but as fuel stocks depleted, Ropar plant suspended operations on Wednesday and the unit at Lehra Mohabbat plant packed up on Saturday evening.
The deadlock has also started impacting the farmers as nearly 270 rakes could not be operated to transport fertiliser to the state. “There is no clue of whether normalcy will be back soon. There has been no improvement on the ground for more than a week. We could not operate nearly 600 rakes carrying containers. The impact is felt by every section in Punjab. We are ready to run trains provided the state ensures no protestor will be back on the tracks when we run freight and passenger trains,” said the railway official.
Data from Northern Railway show that 1,565 passenger trains have either been completely or partially cancelled. Another 105 trains have been diverted since September 22. “Many trains had to be terminated at Ambala, which is known as short termination. Everyday trains were planned expecting the return of normalcy. But there has been no end to the crisis,” said another official.

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