The losses suffered by Railways due to the farm bill agitation in Punjab have already crossed an estimated Rs 1,200 crore as protests on tracks are underway at 32 places across the state, officials said. According to data from the national transporter, till date more than 2225 freight rakes carrying vital commodities could not be operated due to the blockages caused by the protestors. Around 1350 have been forced to be cancelled or diverted, they said.
"Loss already expected to have crossed Rs 1,200 crore as agitators have continued dharna at platforms/near railway track. Train movement had to be suspended due to operational and safety considerations as agitators have suddenly stopped some train movements and sporadic blockade continued at various places especially around Jandiala, Nabha, Talwandi Sabo and Bathinda," an official said.
"Due to the continued blockages at sections of tracks in Punjab, there has been a major adverse impact on freight movement and hence on availability of vital commodities for farm, industrial and infrastructure sector as well," the official said. Earlier, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had written to the Punjab chief minister seeking assurance about safety of tracks and running staff to resume operations.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is scheduled to lead a 'dharna' of Congress MLAs at Rajghat here on Wednesday following President Ram Nath Kovind's refusal to meet a delegation led by him over the Centre's farm laws. The Chief Minister's Office had on on October 21 sought an appointment for Singh and his delegation with the President to urge him to grant his assent to Punjab's farm bills passed last month by the state assembly in a bid to negate the Centre's three farm laws
The farmers agitation in Punjab began around September 24 when they started blocking railway tracks and stations demanding the repeal of new three agriculture related bills. Farmers in Punjab have expressed apprehension that the Centre's farm reforms would pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporates.
The three farm laws include Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.