Frustrated with recurrent 'rail roko' protests that often erupt across the country, railway minister Dinesh Trivedi will write a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him to enact a law to enable movement of trains during political agitations.
Besides inconvenience to passengers, political protests have resulted in huge but avoidable revenue loss to the railways. Officials estimate that 'rail roko' protests have caused a loss of at least Rs 1,000 crore per annum.
Being the most visible face of the government, the railways have been routinely targeted by political activists and workers — they sit on railway tracks and sometimes damage railway property as well.
Jats, Gujjars, Bodos, Maoists and activists demanding formation of Telengana, at some point of time, have obstructed movement of trains in their respective areas of influence.
Ahead of the proposed Telengana stir beginning Saturday, the railways cancelled as many as 124 trains.
“For no fault of its own, the railways suffer huge losses because of political agitations now and then. We must find a way out,” a ministry official said.
The railways have also sent a note to the cabinet, suggesting that more powers should be given to the Railways Protection Force (RPF) to deal with rail-related crimes.
Currently, in situations like 'rail roko', there prevails a three-tier security system, with responsibilities and powers shared among the Government Railway Police (GRP), RPF and the district police concerned.
The railway ministry’s idea is that only a two-tier system should prevail by excluding the district police.
The idea of a unified force to check rail crimes was given a big push during the tenure of Trivedi’s predecessor Mamata Banerjee. At her initiative, a draft bill seeking to empower the RPF was prepared.