Gujjar Stir: Indian Railways suffer losses of about Rs.100 Crore

Rajashthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said that there is "no point blocking rail tracks, we're ready to talk"
Rajashthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said that there is “no point blocking rail tracks, we’re ready to talk”

New Delhi: Railways has suffered losses of about Rs 100 crore due to the ongoing Gujjar agitation which has forced cancellation and diversion of as many as 326 Mail and Express trains on Kota-Mathura route so far.

Besides, there have been cancellations of about 1.9 lakh tickets since May 21 on IRCTC website, causing a huge logjam for customers to access the site.

The Kota-Mathura route bears the major traffic between South and North and North and West and it has been cut off due to the agitation.

“Besides the passenger service, the agitation has adversely affected the freight movement also as many goods trains have been diverted to other routes,” said a senior Railway Ministry official, adding “the cancellation/diversion of trains has lead to an unprecedented level of cancellations of reservations and revised reservation requests”.

According to the official, the agitation has cost about Rs 100 crore till now.

The cancellation of trains has also led to a sudden upsurge of hits on the IRCTC Website. The number of hits between 10 AM and 11 AM which were normally in the range of 10 million have gone up to 22.3 million since start of agitation, touching a peak of 30 million on May 22.

IRCTC ticketing site is not geared for such abnormal increase of traffic and hence the reported problems, he said.

However, steps have taken to mitigate the problem in this regard and additional server is being put in place to augment the booking capacity of the site and to cope with the increased traffic.

The Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan has almost become an annual event, with the community resorting to blocking train tracks and highways, leading to large-scale cancellation and diversion of trains.

“There have been such blockades by Gujjars three-four times in the past five years and once, the agitation even continued for 15 days,” said a Northern Railway official.

Container train operators are keeping their fingers crossed after reports of talks resuming between the agitating community and the State government. “Our export-import traffic movements are badly hit,” CONCOR’s CMD Anil Gupta told.

“The train running is hit. Some trains are stabled, and some are diverted… It is difficult to assess the damage at this time, as we don’t know how long the agitation will continue,” said Sachin Bhanushali, CEO, Gateway Rail, a subsidiary of Gateway Distriparks.

FIR against protestors

Maintaining law and order is a State’s prerogative. Incidentally, Rajasthan is ruled by the BJP Government, which rules the Centre, too.

The State government had filed an FIR against the community leaders two days ago, but that did not impact the agitation.

On Wednesday, the Rajasthan High Court reportedly asked the State Chief Secretary and police chief to take action while expressing its “unhappiness” over the manner the administration had dealt with the agitators.