New Delhi, July 2 The Congress has said that the government is pushing railways into private hands and the Public Private Partnership is just "jugglery of words" after the government invited private participation in passenger train operations on 109 pairs of routes.
"Why did the government decide on privatisation in the midst of corona" asked Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
He said that "on March 17, 2020 the government said in Parliament that it is not going to privatise railways."
The Congress apprehended that the government is moving towards retrenchment of employees. The Indian Railways employs up to 1.5 crore people.
"Is retrenchment next?" asked Singhvi.
The Congress said that Railways ferry 2.5 crore passengers daily and 7.5 billion annually.
"Rail is the only lifeline of the poor and the government is taking it away from them. Snatch whatever you want to. But remember - the people of the country will give a befitting reply," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.
The Railways on Wednesday announced that it has invited request for qualifications for private participation in passenger train operations on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains.
It said that it plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains and the project would entail private sector investment of about Rs 30,000 crore.
According to the railway ministry, this is the first initiative for private investment for running passenger trains on the Indian Railways network. The move was initiated last year with the introduction of the Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
( With inputs from IANS )