PANDU, Sept 25 � A delegation of the NF Railway Mazdoor Union, headed by Rakhal Das Gupta, president of the All India Railwaymen�s Federation (AIRF) and general secretary, the NF Railway Mazdoor Union, along with Professor Ramani Barman, president of the NF Railway Mazdoor Union and ex-Education Minister of Assam, met Sadanand Gauda, Union Minister of Railways, at the Railway headquarters in Maligaon recently.
Das Gupta urged the Railway Minister to take the initiative for the early completion of projects in the North-east like the Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project, Bogibeel project, Naharlagun-to-Murkongselek project, etc. He said that the AIRF, to which the NF Railway Mazdoor Union is affiliated, sent a protest letter addressed to the minister on July 14, 2014, opposing the decision to induct FDI in the Indian Railways.
The Indian Railways has seen many ups and downs in its long journey. Different projects like Own Your Wagon (OYW), Built Operate Lease and Transfer (BOLT) and Public Private Participation (PPP) were introduced, but they could not become operational, Das Gupta pointed out.
He said that Railwaymen work round the clock, braving all odds, to keep the rail wheels on the move. At a time when developed countries like the USA are reeling under an economic depression, the Indian Railways has a cash surplus of Rs 66,804 crore after discharging dividends for general revenue and other liabilities.
While the prices of all essential commodities have increased, the passenger fare per kilometre in the Indian Railways increased only from 22.9 paise in 2000-2001 to 28.5 paise in 2012-2013, which is an increase of 0.43 per cent per annum.
Railway is the poor man�s transport and it should not be left at the mercy of foreign investors. The NF Railway Mazdoor Union and the AIRF are totally opposed to the decision of inducting FDI into the Indian Railways and will request the Government of India and the Ministry of Railways to reconsider its proposal for the common good of the people of the country in general and Railwaymen in particular.
Das Gupta also demanded the scrapping of the new pension scheme and called for provision of pension and family pension to all Railwaymen. Railwaymen appointed on or after January 1, 2004 have been discriminated against by imposing the new pension scheme on them.
After a discussion with the federations, the sitting MR�s predecessor addressed a letter to the Finance Minister on March 29, 2014 to cover all Railwaymen under the pension and family pension scheme irrespective of their date of appointment. He called for steps to scrap the new pension scheme and grant of pension and family pension to all Railwaymen irrespective of their date of appointment.
Das Gupta handed over a memorandum to the Minister of Railways, comprising the demands of the Railwaymen which include review of the decision to bring FDI in the Indian Railways, scrapping of the new pension scheme, improvement of medical facilities at the NF Railway, setting up of medical colleges in Guwahati and Dibrugarh at the NF Railway according to the announcement of the then Minister of Railways on the floor of Parliament during her Budget speech, development of the Eastern and North-eastern regions, development of the rail infrastructure at Lumding, grant of travelling facilities to Railway workers and their family members during the �mega block� for the conversion of MG into BG along the Lumding-Badarpur-Silchar route, provision of security during the �mega block� for the conversion of MG into BG along the Lumding-Badarpur-Agartala route, setting up of a coach manufacturing factory at New Bongaigaon, and repair of quarters, roads and drains in Railway colonies. Other issues like acute crisis of drinking water, frequent failure of electricity, filling up of vacant posts, increase in the rate of special duty allowance granted to the staff of the NE region by 25 per cent with effect from January 1, 2011, etc., were also raised in the memorandum.