industry

Railways considers lockdown as ‘force majeure’, eases rates


New Delhi: The Indian Railways has relaxed freight charges, considering the lockdown period as ‘force majeure‘, and is loading an average 25,000 wagons each day with essential commodities, as the national transporter looks to maintain stability of freight operations in the country.

As per the finance ministry, a ‘force majeure’ means extraordinary events or circumstances beyond human control such as an event described as an Act of God (like a natural calamity).

The finance ministry has clarified that the Coronavirus can be classified as a natural calamity and the Force Majeure clause may be invoked. “Indian Railways has decided that period from 22.03.20 to 14.04.20 shall be treated under ‘force majeure’ and during this period no demmurage, wharfage, stacking, stabling, detention and ground usage charge shall be leviable,” the ministry tweeted Friday.

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Around 1.6 lakh wagons have carried supplies and over one lakh of these with essential commodities on the Indian Railways network over the last four days, the ministry said in a separate communication.

While all passenger trains services of the Indian Railways remain non-operational amid the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, freight trains are running to ensure supplies that supplies of essential commodities particularly, are not interrupted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a 21-days lockdown till April 14 as the number of those infected by the disease grew in India and globally. Around 25,000 wagons are being loaded daily on an average with essential commodities like food grains, salt, edible oil, sugar, milk, fruits and vegetables, as per details shared by the ministry of railways on Friday.

An average 20,000 wagons of coal and 1,700 wagons of petroleum products are being loaded every day, the data showed. “Close coordination is being maintained with the State Governments so that rakes of essential commodities are handled smoothly without any delay, amidst various restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid-19,” the railway ministry said.

To monitor the uninterrupted movement of essential commodities over Indian Railway system, an emergency freight control is working in the ministry and freight movement is being closely monitored by officials at senior level.





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