IRCTC's claim of pvt train's profit is gimmick: AIRF

All India Railwaymens' Federation (AIRF) General Secretary Shiva Gopal Mishra called the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) claim of Rs 70 lakh profit for India’s first ‘privately-run’ train as a gimmick.

Speaking to media persons here on Friday, he said except, during the Deepavali festival, the Tejas Express has been running 40%-60% vacant. Then how can IRCTC claim profit? The federation is conducting an internal ‘investigation’ into the claims and will soon come out with the truth about the ‘profit’.

He said the IRCTC is making such a claim to encourage privatisation of India Railways.

“We have seen the fate of Air India and BSNL, which the government wanted to disinvest and their wrong policies has pushed both entities into loss-making, and the Federation would never allow such a thing to happen to Indian Railways,” he said and charged that Railway Minister is misleading the people on privatisation of Railways. “Even in parliament Railway Minister has said that government is not planning to privatise Railways, but stealthily they are preparing grounds to bring in private players in vital operations,” he said.

Mishra said the government is ‘helping’ private players make a profit by providing them Railway infrastructure. “If private players really care for the development of Railways then they should be asked to lay new railway tracks and run trains on not-so profit routes,” he said and added that Indian railways are not for profit sector but have a social responsibility to provide better facilities. “There is no need to hike the fare of railways if the government, as it does for other departments, provide subsidy amount of Rs 36,000 crore for running 16,000 pair of passenger trains and also provide pension and wages of Rs 40,000 crore to its employees from general exchequer and not from Railway operational cost,” he said.

He said privatisation of railways has two major challenges, one: There will be exploitation of employees and secondly safety and security of the railways will be compromised as the private employees will hire unskilled workers. He said even though the Supreme Court has passed orders against hiring contract employees, the Indian government continues to do so. There are more than five lakh contract employees in Indian railways. “If Union government fails to set a good example, how can they expect others to follow the apex court orders,” he said.

He said if the government continues with its privatisation policy, then entire Railway operations will come to grinding halt. A decision in this regard will be taken at three-day National Convention of AIRF to be held at Chennai from December 4.

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