| President of Upper Assam Chamber of Commerce O.P. Gattani addresses a news conference in Jorhat on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, June 10: The Upper Assam Chamber of Commerce, the oldest and one of the largest body of traders, industrialists and tea planters, has urged the NF Railway to waive the recent hike in penalty charges on goods brought by trains to railway yards in Jorhat and Farkating in adjoining Golaghat district.
Addressing reporters here today, chamber president O.P. Gattani said the Tinsukia division of NF Railway in a notice issued on May 30 hiked the penalty charges of only two railway yards out of the four in Upper Assam from June 3, 2012.
Gattani said three hours have been allotted for unloading goods from five wagons, four hours for unloading from six to 20 wagons, six hours for unloading from 21 to 29 wagons and nine hours for unloading from 30 to 42 wagons.
He said if the parties failed to unload the goods within the stipulated time, they would have to pay a fine of Rs 100 per wagon per hour. From June 3, charges have increased. It has been made double in the first category, four times in the second and six times in the third.
Gattani said now as the NFR had increased the charges for delay in unloading the goods which include grocery items as well as construction materials, then it was natural for the prices of the goods brought by train will go up.
The chamber president said the Jorhat goods section lacked proper infrastructure — adequate storage facility, lighting, drinking water, waiting shades, toilets, poor roads leading to the yard, traffic jam — which make it impossible for the parties to unload the goods within the allotted time. Thus, the parties end up paying fines. He said last year, the NFR had increased the said rates for three months, but later withdrew after protests.
Chamber secretary Dulichand Agarwala said the organisation, in a memorandum to Union minister for civil aviation Ajit Singh recently, has urged him to upgrade the Jorhat airport. Their demands include introduction of morning and afternoon flights from Jorhat to Guwahati, Calcutta and Delhi and basic passenger facilities at Jorhat airport.
He also urged the Centre to grant a separate time zone for the northeastern states so that work here could start early in the day as the sun rises quite early in this part of the country. Agarwala said the the government should change the working hours of all offices by starting work early in the day as it is done in tea gardens.