INDIA. Mumbai: Due to the Indian Railways‘ decision to lease out coaches to private operators, the movement of seafood parcels has come to a standstill at Palghar in Maharashtra since the operators are selective and are not accepting fish parcels.
In September last year, the Union Ministry of Railways decided to lease out rail coaches to private players to tap the tourism potential and to leverage the core strength of the professionals in marketing, hospitality, integration of services, expertise in the development identification of tourist circuits, etc.
As per the policy, the coaches are leased out for a minimum period of 5 years, extendable till the codal life of coaches. The leasing is as per the desired configuration of interested parties.
The outright purchase of coaches can be made, and minor refurbishment of coaches is also permitted. The Railways will levy haulage, nominal stabling, and lease charges.
The fish supply is categorized as floating fish feed under section 9 A of the IRCA (Indian Railway Conference Association) Goods Tariff No 45 (Part I, Vol I, II) and is not prohibited. However, after the coaches are leased out to them, the operators hold the sway.
The trouble began when the seafood parcels were offloaded from the Uttarakhand-bound Dehradun Express train (19019 UP) at Palghar station on September 15.
This train has now been fitted with Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) passenger coaches, and no seafood parcels are allowed. The uncertainty continues since Western Railway is yet to initiate steps to resolve this issue.
The Dehradun Express originates from the Bandra Terminus in North West Mumbai and is bound for the Haridwar Junction (Uttarakhand).
Earlier, the fishermen from Satpati village (Palghar) used to load their fish supplies to the cities of North India, including Delhi, Meerut, Saharanpur, and Dehradun.
This arrangement went on for several years. But now the chain is broken, putting the fish traders in a fix since the supply is perishable, and despite being stored in ice boxes, it cannot be shunted from one train to another.
A few months back, the fishermen’s bodies were discussed with WR Divisional Railway Manager Niraj Verma. But the problem remained unsolved.
On Saturday, office bearers of different associations called on the WR General Manager Ashok Kumar Misra and put various demands before him.
The delegation included: Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh (MRPS) Secretary Hridaynath Mhatre, Dahanu-Vaitarana Pravasi Sanghtana Secretary Himansh Vartak, Akhil Maharashtra Machchimar Samiti President Devendra Tandel, Shree Palghar Kutchi Jain Seva Samaj Secretary Pankaj Vira and Commuters’ representative Sanket Thakur.
The delegation demanded that: the trains bound for Gujarat be given a halt at Palghar. Besides, the Golden Temple-Amritsar Express(Mumbai Central-Amritsar) provides a stop at Palghar to enable the loading of agricultural produce and seafood parcels for the northern states.
Besides other express trains- Bandra-Ajmer, Mysore- Ajmer, Daund-Indore, Pune-Indore, Bandra-Bhavnagar, Kutch Express (Bandra Terminus-Bhuj), Gujarat Express (Mumbai Central-Ahmedabad), Sayaji Nagari (Dadar-Bhuj) and Kochuveli (Kearala)-Bhavnagar Express be given a halt at Palghar since the people find it difficult to travel to stations like Surat and Valsad by road to catch the trains.
The local train services between Virar and Dahanu are improved, and the services of Valsad Express be made punctual, the delegation demanded. Misra assured them to look into the demands.
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