All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF) has given a call for a nationwide demonstration on September 8, Wednesday, to protest against the Central Government’s recent assets monetisation framework which they call the “outright selling” of Indian Railways’ assets.
Billed as a “Warning Day”, the nationwide programme is expected to see participation from the railwaymen in all 68 railway divisions across the country.
The call to protest by the largest railway union came days after the Narendra Modi – led Central Government unveiled a four-year National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) that will involve the monetisation of government’s infrastructure assets. Under it, the transaction will involve the government transferring revenue rights to private players for a specified period in return for money upfront, without handing over ownership in the projects.
Shiv Gopal Mishra, general secretary, AIRF told Newsclick on Monday that the plan is akin to “eventual privatisation and nothing else.” “The government is outright selling the assets of the Indian Railways under the NMP. The rail employees will not let this happen,” he said.
Pegged to generate six lakh crore rupees, the NMP will include monetisation of assets in road, railways, power, mining, aviation, ports, warehouses, stadiums among other sectors, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had told the media earlier last month.
Of the six lakh crore, the NMP marks a potential asset monetisation of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore for Indian Railways. These will include 400 railway stations, 150 passenger trains, 2,843 km of Dedicated Freight Corridors and track infrastructure, among others.
“On Wednesday, the railwaymen are giving a warning to the Modi government to roll back its policy of monetising assets. If not, then the nation will witness a sustained struggle of the employees against it,” Mishra said.
Meanwhile, telecom employees at Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) are up in arms against the Centre for announcing the monetisation of towers that belong to the state-owned telecom company. The All Union and Associations of BSNL (AUAB) has given a call to stage a three-day dharna against it in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, beginning from September 21 – it was earlier decided that the dharna will be staged from September 6.
Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), last month, had called this a “loot of national assets.” “This is designed to allow their private corporate masters to earn huge revenue out of these going to be privatized/leased out national infrastructural asset without making any capital investment,” the central trade union had said in a statement.
Mishra of AIRF on Monday said the there are also plans to bring all the protesting employees’ union on a single platform to protest against the Centre’s decision. “We will also try to bring in the common people to join our struggle because ultimately, it will be them who will pay the price for all of it,” he said.
Moreover, political parties are also trying to rally the nation against the NMP. On one hand, Congress has reportedly reoriented its campaign to attack the Centre on its plan to monetise national resources on the other hand Trinamool Congress is also planning for a nationwide protest against the same. Communist Party of India – (Marxist) in a statement last month had alleged that this was like “selling family silver”, which makes “neither economic nor common sense.”