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Innocent Admission

Centre squarely puts onus to clear rail tracks on states

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New Delhi, Nov 4, 2020-
The Centre on Wednesday put the blame of rail blockades squarely on the states, particularly on the Punjab government.

While calling the continued agitation ‘political’, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar claimed that the blockades may also create hurdles in the efforts to send LPG and clothing for the armed forces deployed in the border areas.

“Both passenger trains and goods trains should run, and primarily it is the state government’s responsibility to talk to the agitating farmers,” said Javadekar, adding that the farmers have sold 158 LMT paddy so far this year, which has risen from the 122 LMT sold last time.

He claimed while the farmers have shown faith in the system by selling paddy at increased MSP, it is the responsibility of the state governments to “deal with political agitations”.

The Centre also questioned the state governments’ assertion that passage has been allowed for few materials. Javadekar expressed concern over the safety of the drivers of the goods trains.

“The state governments should talk to the farmers and clear the tracks. Restarting train services is in everyone’s interest. Now the winter has set in and our armed forces are deployed at the borders. If hurdle is faced in sending LPG, clothes and other materials to them, it is not a good thing,” said Javadekar.

Meanwhile, amid the farmers’ protest at 32 locations in several parts of Punjab and Haryana, the Railways has lost revenues from freight to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore, the Railway Ministry said on Wednesday.

All passenger trains passing through the state of Punjab have been adversely impacted and till date more than 1,350 passenger trains have been cancelled, diverted or short terminated.

Earlier, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had written to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on October 26 seeking assurance about the safety of tracks and running staff to resume operations.

The farmers are protesting against the contentious farm bills passed in the Parliament in September. (Agency)

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