Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s concerns over corporatisation of the Modern Coach Factory in Raebareli were based on “misguided, imaginary fears” and urged her not to fall for “fear-mongering” on loss of jobs.
In a five-page letter to Gandhi, the minister said he was “surprised” that the Congress president was opposing the move to set up new “temples of modern India” — a term coined by Jawaharlal Nehru.
Gandhi had earlier claimed the government was seeking to surreptitiously “privatise” the MCF which is in her parliamentary constituency Raebareli.
“I note with great sadness that based on some misguided and imaginary fears, you are now opposing our plan for taking MCF, Raebareli, to the next level of development and expansion,” he said in the letter dated September 2.
He also said corporatisation will enable higher investment and promotion of better technology and create an environment that will boost efficiency in operation and innovation.
“I further urge you to not fall for any fear-mongering on security of livelihoods of the workers of these PUs (production units)…. There is no retrenchment. Rather, the railways may increase hiring as MCF moves towards becoming the world’s largest coach manufacturer,” Goyal said.
He further pointed out that while the factory’s foundation stone was laid by her in 2007, construction began only in 2010.
While it was slated to produce 1,000 coaches but it was “far” from achieving its full potential, the minister said.
Goyal said between 2011-2014, the factory only did minor work on some coaches brought from Kapurthala and as low as 375 coaches were refurbished, whereas it should have been an unit capable of fully manufacturing coaches.
He stated the factory was given priority only in 2014 when the BJP came to power at the Centre.
“In July 2014, MCF was declared a PU of Indian Railways, and within a month it started production of fully formed coaches. Since then, it has doubled production almost every year,” the railway minister said.
Goyal said 140 coaches were manufactured in 2014-2015, 285 in 2015-2016, 576 in 2016-2017, 711 in 2017-2018 and 1425 in 2018-2019. He said the target for the present financial year was 2,158 coaches which is more than the double of sanctioned coaches.
“Indeed, this is a shining example of the working style of government under Prime Minister Narendra Modiji,” he wrote.
Goyal also said the factory had “boosted” local economy in Gandhi’s constituency, benefitting “lakhs of people”. He said goods worth Rs 667 crore were procured by MCF from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in 2018-2019.
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