Trinamool Congress is planning for a nationwide protest against the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) announced by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday.
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, the Rajya Sabha MP from the TMC, said that “This was not discussed either in Parliament or in any parliamentary committee or the Consultative Committee of the Finance Ministry. There was a brief mention about the same in the Budget speech by the Finance Minister. This was decided by the NITI Aayog, which is not a constitutional body, but was set up after a recommendation from the government.”
He said that the BJP never mentioned anything about this massive economic overhaul in their election manifesto of 2014 and 2019. “If they would have mentioned it in the manifesto and won the election afterwards, then we could have concluded that it is people’s mandate. Since they did not do that, now we can say that people do not want the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP),” Roy said.
The TMC MP said that in a huge country like India, it is not acceptable that all the public properties will be handed over to private players like this.
The TMC said that though this was supposed to be in the PPP model, the assets will be ‘perpetually leased’ to the private companies, which will be renewable after every 25 years.
Assets that will come under the purview of NMP are 26,700 km highways, 42,300 km of power transmission line, 8,000 km natural gas pipeline, 2 hydrogen generation plants, 5,000 MW power generation capacity, 4,000 km of the oil pipeline, 400 railway stations, 150 trains, 1,400 km railway track, 160 mining projects, 161 mineral blocks, BSNL-MTNL towers, 35,00,000 MT warehouses in 45 locations, 190 cold storages, 25 airports (Bhubaneshwar, Kozhikode, Varanasi, Amritsar etc), 31 ports, 2 sports stadiums, and so on.
• Highways: This includes several roads of Bengal, which are Palsit-Dankuni (64km), Panagarh-Palsit (67km), Purnia-Dalkhola (36km), Dalkhola-Islampur (88km), Islampur-Sonarpur-Ghoshpukur (44km), and Salsala Bari-Assam border (26.5km). After the NMP toll plazas will be set up on these roads.
• Railways: The TMC said the Centre is behaving like the East India Company and is handing over Indian Railways to the private players. In England, the railways were operated by private players and now the UK government is planning to pass a bill and take it over. Meanwhile, our government is giving it away. The stations include New Delhi and Chhatrapati Shivaji terminal; the trains that are to be leased out includes Darjeeling and Ooty toy trains. Apart from this, 673 km of dedicated freight corridor, some railway colonies and 15 railway stadiums will also come under NMP’s purview.
• Telecom: BharatNet Fibre Network across the country has been divided into 6 packages, which were built with public money will now be leased out to the private players.
Tax holidays and other concessions have also been announced for those who will lease these projects.
The open coal mines that are listed to be leased pose potential environmental and health hazards, but the cost of mining here is one-fourth of underground coal mines. This move will pave way for more open coal mines in the country, the TMC alleged.
The companies that will be operating can even implement a hire and fire policy and the central government paved way for this as well, the TMC said. They have passed a ‘black law’ amid the commotion in the monsoon session of Parliament which states that no one can call a strike to protest against their employer. The law is enforced upon Ordinance Factory and Defence Forces for now, but will be extended to other sectors as well, the TMC said.
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy also pointed out that the government’s ill-motive was first highlighted by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after the ‘demonetisation and they are making it clear with every passing year.
“The Union government has been privatised. Whatever the Modi government is doing is for the corporates. The corporates are bringing in policies and the government is implementing them,” he said.
AITC stands against these reforms. Since globalisation, whichever government has brought forth such reforms, has resulted in inflation and poverty. This government has failed in the economic upliftment of the country and is instead selling the public properties to raise funds, he alleged.
Sources inside the party say that TMC will be reaching out to other political parties in the country to protest on this issue. TMC reaching out to everyone and this protest is said to be a united opposition movement.