The Railways, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and oil marketing companies have been suffering huge daily losses due to the ongoing farmers’ agitation in Punjab in protest against the farm bills passed by the Centre.
Farmers have resorted to blocking railway tracks and national highways as part of the protests, affecting rail traffic and toll collections.
The Railways has suffered a loss Rs 200 crore since the beginning of the protests that started on September 24, according to the Ferozepur division that monitors the national transporter’s operations in Punjab. Also, Rs 55 lakh had to be returned as on Wednesday (October 7) to passengers who had booked tickets as the services could not be operated, The Indian Express reported.
Like the Railways, the NHAI has also been losing revenue from toll plazas as farmers block roads and highways. Between October 1 and Thursday (October 8), the authority has lost about Rs 7.5 core due to the protests in Punjab. Farmers in Haryana have also taken to the roads to protests, causing a loss of Rs 3.5 crore for the NHAI. The protests have affected collections at 37 toll plazas in Punjab and Haryana — 18 in Punjab and 19 in Haryana.
The Railways has not been able to operate passenger and freight trains from and to Punjab as farmers have blocked tracks at 33 locations, some of them key junctions. It transports a large amount of food grains from Punjab to other parts of the country and earns about Rs 14 crore daily from freight services. With freight operations having to be halted due to the protests, the loss for the railways stood at Rs 210 crore in 15 days since the protests started, The Indian Express reported.
The Northern Railways was operating 28 goods trains and 14 passengers trains daily from Punjab before the protests started. All the services have now been stopped.
“We earned a revenue of Rs 352 crores via transport of goods through goods trains in September, but now trains have been cancelled completely,” Rajesh Aggarwal, divisional railways manager at Ferozepur, told The Indian Express. He said the protesters have not damaged property anywhere.
In some areas, farmers have been staging protests at fuel pumps, affecting the business of the companies operating them. Most of the pumps belong to Reliance and Essar, The Indian Express reported.