First AC lo­cal train to be on tracks this De­cem­ber 100 Maratha groups be­hind the face­less protests across state

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com Suren­dra P Gan­gan suren­dra.gan­gan@hin­dus­tan­times.com Agen­cies let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

From De­cem­ber this year, sub­ur­ban rail com­muters may be able to take an air­con­di­tioned train to work and back.

The trial runs for the train will be­gin by next month.

The 12-car AC train is cur­rently at the Cen­tral Rail­way (CR) car-shed at Kurla for last­minute fit­tings.

“We were wait­ing for the in­duc­tor, which has ar­rived now. It will be fit­ted by the end of this month, af­ter which static and dy­namic safety tri­als will be con­ducted by Re­search De­signs and Stan­dards Or­ga­ni­za­tion (RDSO),” said Cen­tral Rail­way (CR) Gen­eral Man­ager (GM) Akhil Agar­wal.

Once they have been cer­ti­fied, the train will be in­ducted on the sub­ur­ban network.

The rail­ways have not de­cided which sec­tion will get the first AC train

The silent Maratha protests grip­ping the state, por­trayed as a face­less ag­i­ta­tion led by the peo­ple, are backed by nearly 100 or­gan­i­sa­tions across districts and a core of hard­line or­gan­i­sa­tions that have been work­ing in the state for more than two decades.

The protests were trig­gered by the brutal rape and mur­der of a mi­nor in Kopardi in western Ma­ha­rash­tra’s Ahmed­na­gar dis­trict in July this year. What is now a huge state-wide mo­bil­i­sa­tion of the com­mu­nity be­gan with small lo­cal ral­lies in Ahmed­na­gar and later in Marathawada – both re­gions marked by strong caste pol­i­tics – af­ter the Class 8 stu­dent was gang raped, tor­tured and mur­dered by three Dalit labour­ers when she was on her way home from her grand­fa­ther’s house.

But the big ral­lies be­gan with a call by the Sakal Maratha Sa­maj – an um­brella group of nine or­gan­i­sa­tions - on Au­gust 10 in Au­rangabad. The rally not only saw an un­ex­pected turnout, but also got sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions across districts join­ing the move­ment in just a month-and-a half.

The first rally was not taken se­ri­ously by the ad­min­is­tra­tion or Maratha politi­cians, but it set a pat­tern for the ral­lies to come – non-vi­o­lence, young women pro­test­ers, the ab­sence of lead­ers and re­mark­able dis­ci­pline – all of which marked a shift from the com­mu­nity’s his­tory.

The Union govern­ment dou­bled on Thurs­day the limit on money from prov­i­dent fund that can be in­vested in stock, bond and com­modi­ties mar­kets, de­fy­ing labour unions that say such in­vest­ments are more prone to risks.

The labour min­istry said the dou­bling of the 5% ceil­ing on in­vest­ments in ex­change­traded funds (ETF) will en­sure higher re­turns for PF ac­count hold­ers.

The move by­passed the cen­tral board of trustees of the Em­ployee Prov­i­dent Fund Or­gan­i­sa­tion that usually takes de­ci­sions on the prov­i­dent fund corpus which gives fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity to mil­lions of work­ing In­di­ans who con­trib­ute to it.

“We de­cided to raise it... keep­ing the good eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion, ground con­di­tions and how so­cial se­cu­rity funds in­vest glob­ally. We are cus­to­di­ans of work­ers money and our re­spon­si­bil­ity is to see they get good re­turns,” labour minister Ban­daru Dat­ta­treya said at a press con­fer­ence.

EPFO has al­ready in­vested Rs1,500 crore in ETFs in the first half of the cur­rent fis­cal and will in­vest about Rs500 crore in the re­main­ing six months.

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