Punjab MPs urge Piyush Goyal to restart rail services in state

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) Punjab MPs Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo on Thursday met Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and requested him to restart rail services in the state, which have been stopped due to the farmers' agitation.

The two Congress MPs in the Rajya Sabha said there has been no transportation of critical goods to ensure continued economic activities within the state.

Due to the suspension of freight services, Punjab is witnessing a shortage of diammonium phosphate (DAP) and urea fertilisers, which are essential for agriculture, they said.

The MPs said that the sowing season for rabi crops normally begins in November for harvest in April/May and the suspension of freight trains will further harm the farmers.

'We urge you to intervene in this matter. Freight operations by the Indian Railways must resume at the earliest otherwise the safety and security of Punjab as well as the Armed Forces and civilians living in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will be negatively impacted,' they said in a letter handed over to Goyal.

Bajwa and Dullo said Punjab farmers have ensured a bumper crop harvest despite the COVID-19 lockdown.

'Due to the suspension of operations of the Railways, our farmers and the larger economy of Punjab will be irrevocably damaged,' they said.

The two leaders said all three of the private thermal power plants in Punjab have shut down operations due to the lack of availability of coal.

'This shutdown will critically affect the industries of Punjab. You are well aware of the damage the pandemic has had on the economy of every state. Any further stoppage of economic activity will ensure more misery to the 2.7 crore Punjabis,' they said.

'Any further disruption may not just have a financial impact on the people of Punjab but also a social impact,' they added.

Meanwhile, BJP president J P Nadda has in a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh slammed him for the continued suspension of goods trains to the state, saying that he and his party are responsible for this situation as they openly encouraged agitations against farms laws.

Singh had earlier written an open letter to Nadda expressing concern over the continued suspension of goods trains by the railways and warned of its dangerous effects on national security and the armed forces.

The Punjab chief minister had also staged a dharna in the national capital along with all Congress MLAs and many MPs from Punjab, However, Bajwa and Dullo were not a part of the protest.

Nadda said he shared the Punjab chief minister's concern about the situation in the state, 'but in my view you are fully responsible for the unfortunate situation that has emerged in the State of Punjab'. PTI SKC RHL