Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 29
It may take some more time for the train services to resume in Punjab with the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) refusing to lift the blockade of the railway tracks leading to two of
the three private thermal plants at Banawali (Mansa) and Rajpura.
Even as the state government asked the union to rethink on the course of their agitation, BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) leaders today rejected the offer, saying they were not blocking the entire rail service but only sections servicing the power plants as part of their “gherao corporates” agitation.
A meeting was convened by the three-member committee of state ministers with the representatives of the largest farmer union in the state here this afternoon to resolve the crisis.
With the Ministry of Railways having clearly told the Congress government the services would not be re-started till the blockade was lifted, the Punjab Government through its delegation, which included Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhbinder Sarkaria and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, asked the agitating farmers to end the ‘rail roko’ stir, as all other 30 farmer unions had already halted the agitation.
The delegation is learnt to have explained to the farm leaders how the state was staring at huge revenue losses and the devastating impact of the blockade on its economy. With the rail services shut, the industry is suffering huge losses as goods cannot be sent to clients outside the state, nor can they get the raw material for manufacturing goods as most shipments are sent through trains.
The union leaders were told by the ministers that the state government had accepted all their demands by rejecting the Centre’s farm laws and also by passing amendments to these Acts during the recent special Vidhan Sabha session. The ministers said thermal plants in the state — both private and state-owned — had minimal coal stocks left and that the state was staring at a blackout in case it didn’t get the much-needed coal immediately for running the plants. Union president Joginder Singh Ugrahan, however, refused to lift the blockade. Talking to The Tribune, he said the state government should realise the Centre was trying to impose an economic blockade of Punjab.
“We are not sitting on the main railway lines. Our agitation is only outside private thermal plants. We will not lift the blockade here. The state should think of taking over these power plants,” he said. He added the appeal made by the ministers would be discussed at a state-level meeting of the union on Friday, but they would continue with the blockade.
Let’s all meet President: Capt to MLAs
- CM Capt Amarinder Singh has urged MLAs of all political parties to accompany him to meet the President on November 4 for assent to amended farm Bills passed by Assembly
- The CM, who has already sought time from the President following the Vidhan Sabha session, implored MLAs to rise above party lines to safeguard the state’s interests
- He expressed concern at the Centre’s move to halt freight trains to state and withholding the Rural Development Fund, calling it financial and economic blockade of state
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