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No blockade, all tracks cleared, says Punjab; Railways disagrees

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
November 07, 2020 02:29 IST
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Over 30 farmers' organisations on Friday cleared railway tracks in Punjab to allow the movement of freight trains following persuasion of the state government, officials said.


'The rail network all across the state of Punjab is presently totally clear for uninterrupted movement of goods trains,' a home department statement said in Chandigarh.

The statement came after Railway Board Chairman V K Yadav earlier in the day said the railways needs 100 per cent security clearance from Punjab to resume operations.

However, hours after the Punjab government's statement, the Railways accused it of 'misguiding' people over the extent of blockade of rail tracks in the state by the protesting farmers.

Earlier, Yadav had said 22 blockades still remained to be cleared by the state and the Railways will resume train services in Punjab only when both passenger and freight trains are allowed to operate.

'The restriction on the types of trains, routes, destinations and cargo etc. are impossible to adhere to and create huge uncertainty and risk to the life and safety of our Railway personnel and property,' the national transporter said.

'The state government is misguiding by saying that all tracks are clear for movement of goods trains. We request the state government to clear the track and stations for operation of all trains,' it said.

Rail services in the state have remained suspended since September 24 when farmer organisations organised protests on tracks and station premises against the recently passed farm laws.

The suspension of railway services led to a shortage in supplies in the state.

The protesting farmers said that they have moved their dharnas to parks adjacent to railway stations.

"Thirty farmers' organisations have cleared all rail tracks in the state," Darshan Pal, a farmer leader, said.

Some peasant activists were at the railway platform at Jandiala in Amritsar, the Punjab government statement said, adding that senior police officials are in touch with the protesters to persuade them to vacate the railway station.

Sources in the Railways said the demands made by the Punjab government were 'irrational' and 'unfeasible'.

'The communication by the Punjab government is misleading. From the statement it appears that tracks have been cleared for all the Railway operations, which is far from the truth.

'The state seems to want Railways to run only goods trains for the time being... Assurance is available for goods trains and not for passenger trains. This is not acceptable to Railways,' top sources in the railway ministry said.

They said the Railways is seeking track clearance in all sections for all kinds of train operations, adding, 'states cannot pick and choose type of trains for their convenience'.

The three farm laws -- the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 -- were enacted recently.

Farmers' bodies protesting against the laws have expressed apprehension that these would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the 'mercy' of big corporate entities.

They demand that the laws be withdrawn.

The Centre has asserted that these new laws will be beneficial for farmers and will increase their income.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2021 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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