Alleging that private passenger trains will start operating within 100 days, the CPI-M has come out strongly against what it says is the government’s planned privatisation of Indian Railways.
“The Modi government’s second coming is going to be marked by a stepped-up privatisation drive. Already the Niti Aayog has announced that 46 public sector enterprises will be sold off or shut down as per a 100-day action plan,” said an editorial in CPI-M journal ‘People’s Democracy’.
The heart of this privatisation drive will be the Indian Railways, it said.
According to an action plan proposed by the Railway Ministry, private passenger trains will be operated within 100 days, said the editorial.
Two passenger trains will be offered to Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the railways to provide ticketing and onboard services. These trains will be run on important routes like the Golden Quadrilateral connecting major cities, it said.
“The government wants to hand over the running of premier trains, including the Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains, to private operators for which tenders would be floated this year itself.
“The trains to metropolitan cities and premier routes, which are more profitable, will be given to the private sector. This would imply also higher railway fares and cutting the subsidies given by the government,” the CPI-M said.
Now the proposal is for the seven production units and associated workshops to be hived off from the Indian Railways and brought under a separate company, it said.
“This would be the first step towards privatisation and will pave the way for outsourcing production to private companies.”
The Indian Railways has a network covering 69,182 km. It carries millions to all corners of India.
The editorial said: “The Indian Railways should not be privatized.”