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Govt turns down Burn Standard staff plea

New Delhi, July 19: The government has ruled out a last ditch plea by Burn Standard officers who want the Asansol-based PSU to be taken over by the railway ministry for which it makes wagons in a bid to stave off privatisation.

The government has already invited expressions of interest for Burn Standard. But Burn Standard employees have been arguing that since it makes wagons for the railways and the government’s disinvestment policy forbids sale of any unit which is engaged in production for defence and the railways, the company should be kept out of the disinvestment process.

Instead, in repeated letters to railway minister Nitish Kumar, Burn Standard officers have been arguing that the two-century-old firm should be taken over by the railways and converted into Indian Railway’s captive wagon maker.

Burn Standard points out that with a captive wagon unit, the railways could set price lines and standards and break the various cartels that operate in railway wagon supply. Burn Standard officers point out that the Indian Railways have switched to eight wheel wagons, a technology which Burn has been using for quite some time.

Burn Standard’s proposal, which had found favour with top officials of both the departments of heavy industries and railways during initial talks, has been doing the rounds since the middle of last year.

But instead of taking cognisance of it, sources said the railways is more favourably disposed to taking over Bharat Wagon & Engineering which has units at Mokamoh and Muzaffarpur in Bihar as MPs from the state have been pressurising Kumar, who too hails from that state.

The official spokesperson for the railways, however, denied that the railways is poised to take over Bihar-based Bharat Wagons’ unit disregarding Burn Standard’s plea.

Compared to Burn Standard, Bharat Wagons is in a far worse state. While Burn Standard has three units with machinery in good condition, Bharat Wagons is in a ramshackle state.

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