New Delhi: UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday accused the Modi government of planning to privatize six rail production units, saying this is a “first attempt” to hand over the country’s priceless assets to private hands cheaply leaving thousands unemployed.
Soon after the UPA chairperson raised the point in Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour, the railways rejected her charge saying the factory will remain under government control and also maintained that “corporatisation was not privatisation”.
Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi said these included Rae Bareli’s Modern Coach Factory. She said the move was against the objectives for which the plant had been set up.
“The real concern is that they have chosen the Modern Coach Factory for the experiment,” Gandhi said.
She said the factory was set up by the UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to boost rail manufacturing in the country and it was the “most modern plant” that produced good quality coaches at cheap prices.
“This factory has been producing more than its basic capacity. This is the most modern factory of the Indian Railways. This is famous for manufacturing cheapest rail coaches. This is one of the best rail production units,” she said.
Alleging that the future of over 2,000 employees working in the factory was now uncertain, the Congress leader said it was not known why the government wanted to privatize this factory.
“The employees have also not been taken into confidence. It is a matter of sadness that their and their families’ future is in danger.
“I urge the government that it should protect the Modern Coach Factory and other PSUs and give respect to the farmers and their families,” she said.
Gandhi, who is MP from Rae Bareli, also expressed concern over the condition of some public sector undertakings including HAL, BSNL and MTNL.
“Their condition is not hidden from anyone,” she said.
Gandhi said privatization leads to priceless assets going into a few private hands at “very cheap prices” and thousands then become unemployed.
Reacting to Gandhi’s charge, railway ministry officials said: “What railways means by corporatisation is making a government PSU – the Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company- under the Ministry of Railways and shifting the production units including MCF, Rae Bareli to it.”
“This means they will remain under government control but will be better managed as these production will become fully functional PSUs. This will help drive technology partnership and modernisation,” the official said.
He said this means they will remain under government control but will be better managed as these production will become fully functional PSUs. This will help drive technology partnership and modernisation.
The railway official pointed out that while the foundation stone of the MCF was laid by the Congress led UPA government in February 2007, construction started only in May 2010.
“The factory was slated to produce 1,000 coaches. However, it was far from achieving its full potential.
“Between 2011-14, it only did minor work on some coaches brought from Kapurthala. Only 375 coaches were “refurbished” between 2011 to 2014 whereas it should have been fully manufacturing coaches. In July 2014, MCF was declared a production unit of Indian Railways and now its production capacity has grown by leaps and bounds,” said the source.
Since 2014, the factory has in fact doubled production almost every year: 140 coaches in 2014-15, 285 in 2015-16, 576 in 2016-17, 711 in 2017-18. It is expected to produce 1,425 coaches in 2018-19. The target for this year is 2,158 coaches.