Rail staff to observe June 30 as black day, against private sector entry

Bibek Debroy panel says it has endorsed govt policy and it is not privatization

GN Bureau | June 13, 2015


#railways   #bibek debroy   #privatization   #black day  

Opposing private players in railways, the employees’ union has given a call for observing ‘black day’ on June 30 (Wednesday).

“We have decided to observe black day on June 30 all over the country by wearing black badges,” said Shiv Gopal Mishra, general secretary, All India Railway Federation. Terming it as a “clear roadmap for privatisation”, Mishra said, “We hope that the Debroy report will not be accepted by the government”.

The report is against 95 per cent of rail passengers of the country who travel in general and sleeper classes, Mishra said.

However, the high-powered committee, in its over 300-page report, has several times clarified that it does not recommend privatization of railways. Noting that role of private sector was already part of government policy, Debroy said the panel has only endorsed it and it was not a new recommendation.

The Bibek Debroy committee has recommended a whole set of reforms including entry of private players into railways, separation of off-line activities from core business, passing on subsidies to the Centre and an end to the practice of a separate budget.

For open access of other players, it has recommended separation of track construction operation, train operation and rolling stock production units under separate entities.

Prime minister Narendra Modi has said that there would be no privatization of railways. The PM has said that he had a "deep connection" with the railways. "I love railways. My life is what it is because of railways," Modi said. "The government will not go in the direction of railway privatization ... People are spreading rumours about privatization of railways. It is not true," Modi had said.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu had also ruled out the possibility of privatization on several occasions. He had assured that FDI or public-private partnership (PPP) will not affect the ownership of railways. "We want to get private participation but that does not mean we want to privatize railways' operations," the minister had said.

The high-level committee was formed in September to restructure the railways and suggest ways for resource mobilisation. After the receipt of the final report, the railway board is to submit a report on it to the prime minister by this month-end.

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