Bolt from blue for rail vendors

Amid suspension of railway traffic, they have been told to pay licence fee

Bolt from blue for rail vendors

Vendors have been facing a huge loss of business due to the suspension of the rail traffic for the past eight months in the region. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 20

Notices issued by the Northern Railway authorities to vendors on the railway station here for the renewal of their annual licences and the payment of the licence fee have come as a bolt from the blue for the vendors who have been facing a huge loss of business due to the suspension of the rail traffic for the past eight months (since Covid-19 lockdown) with the exception of the restoration of a few trains which had a limited run before the “rail roko” agitation by farmers.

Vendors said a notice issued by the divisional headquarters at Ferozepur had been forwarded to them by the station superintendent, telling them to deposit the licence fee for the period of four months (July-October 2020) immediately on the receipt of the notice. Earlier, the Railways authorities had given relief to the vendors by the waiver of the licence fee for the period April-June due to the lockdown during the pandemic.

A majority of the vendors, reeling under the adverse impact of the loss of business for eight months, said they were not in a position to make the payment of the licence fee as their vends were closed and as things looked right now, there seemed to be no possibility of the restoration of the rail traffic in the near future as standoff between the agitating farmers and the government still continued with no solution in sight.

A spokesperson of the rail vendors said with limited financial resources, many of the vendors had gone back to their native places in other states due to the suspension of the rail traffic and loss of business. Even the local persons holding licences for vends had taken up alternative trade or employment for subsistence. “In such a dismal scenario, it was totally unjustified on part of the Railways authorities to demand the licence fee which, as a matter of principle, was based on the volume of the average business of each vend,” he remarked.

A senior official of the commercial wing of the Northern Railway said the vendors were governed under a single national level policy and the authorities were very well aware of the plight of the vendors in the Ferozepur divison where the rail traffic had again been disrupted due to the farmers’ agitation after the Covid lockdown.

“While notices for the payment of the licence fee have been issued in routine, matter had already been taken up with the appropriate authorities at the highest level for the sympathetic consideration of this matter and the announcement of relief in licence fee for vendors in this region, including Ludhiana, where rail traffic was still suspended,” the official added.

In dire straits

A majority of the vendors, reeling under the adverse impact of the loss of business for eight months, said they were not in a position to make the payment of the licence fee as their vends were closed and as things looked right now, there seemed to be no possibility of the restoration of the rail traffic in the near future as standoff between the agitating farmers and the government still continued with no solution in sight

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