Social media platforms are awash with a video of a train pasted with the banners of ‘Fortune Chakki Fresh Atta’, claiming that the Indian Railways have been privatised by the Indian Government and sold to the Adani Group.
The video which was first shared on Facebook shows a train with posters of ‘Fortune Chakki Fresh Atta’, a popular wheat flour brand, and the company name ‘Adani Wilmar’ affixed on it. Fortune brand is owned by Adani Wilmar, which sells a host of products under the said brand.
Before long, the video went viral and many people started sharing it on their social media accounts to express their dismay over the supposed privatisation of the Indian Railways.
One social media user shared the video on Facebook with the caption: “Adani Airports…Adani Ports…Adani Power…Adani Coal India…Adani Railways.” With the post, the user tried to insinuate that the Railways has been sold to Adani just like Airports, Power, Ports have been.
Many others have also shared the video on Facebook to claim that Adani Group is indeed controlling the Indian Railways now. Not only Facebook, but the video found its way on Twitter as well, with many Twitter users, including prominent people sharing the video to imply that Adani Group has taken over the Indian Railways.
Priyanka Gandhi shares fake, misleading claims of Hardik Patel
The video was shared by the working President of Gujarat Congress Hardik Patel, saying, “Adani’s fresh flour advertisements on Indian Railways are worth a watch. Now we can say with belief that the farmers’ fight is on the path of truth.”
भारतीय रेल पर अदानी के फ़्रेश आटे का विज्ञापन देखने लायक़ हैं। अब तो दावे के साथ कह सकते है की किसानों की लड़ाई सत्य के मार्ग पर हैं। pic.twitter.com/WB97kaG6Fe— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) December 12, 2020
The blatant fake news spread by Hardik Patel was spread further by Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who retweeted Patel’s video.
Several other Twitter users also shared the video, accusing the government of transferring the proprietorship of the Indian Railways to the Adani Group.
Indian Railway slowing becoming Adani Railway…— Sanshojag (@Sanshojag1) December 13, 2020
Total Boycott of Ambani Adani product is must…. pic.twitter.com/A0nDMJJfbW
PIB rubbishes the claims
The Press Information Bureau has rubbished the allegations of Adani Group taking over the Indian Railways that have surfaced on internet along with the aforementioned video.
दावा: #फेसबुक पर एक वीडियो के साथ यह दावा किया जा रहा है कि सरकार ने भारतीय रेल पर एक निजी कंपनी का ठप्पा लगवा दिया है। #PIBFactCheck: यह दावा भ्रामक है। यह केवल एक वाणिज्यिक विज्ञापन है जिसका उद्देश्य केवल ‘गैर किराया राजस्व’ को बेहतर बनाना है। pic.twitter.com/vSmK8Xgdis— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) December 16, 2020
The fact-checking arm of the Press Information Bureau posted a tweet, dismissing the claim that the Indian Government has transferred the ownership of Railways to the Adani Group and calling the video shared on social media websites as misleading. The tweet also mentioned that the posters of Adani Wilmar were just commercial advertisements that are intended to improve the revenues of the Indian Railways.
The Indian Railways, Airports and several government facilities like bus stations, bus services and Metro rail services sell advertising space to private companies generate revenues. It is a common practice across the world.
Advertisements on Indian Railways is a common norm
Advertisements on Indian Railways is not only commonplace but the Railways also earns big revenues from locomotive branding. As per a report published in the Financial Express this year, the Indian Railways has been earning crores in revenues by allowing brand promotions on the locomotives.
The report said the locomotive branding is a part of the NFR scheme formulated by Piyush Goyal-chaired Railway Ministry. The Railways had realised that long-term sustainability is not possible with revenue from just freight and passenger fare. The NFR policy incorporates various schemes for revenue-yielding activities including train branding, rail radio scheme and using platforms for installing ATMs and renting out less-crowded platforms for wedding or teaching purposes across the country.
Railways have earned ₹204.10 crores and ₹223.53 crores during financial years 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively from non-fare revenues.
Popular brands such as Fortune and Haldiram were among the top companies to brand their products on Railway coaches. In February 2020, a total of five additional WAP 7 locomotives were assigned to Adani Wilmar Group on a pro-rata basis. A locomotive with Fortune branding was flagged off at Vadodara railway station in February.
Similarly, Haldiram was awarded the branding of five locomotives through an open tender by the Railways. The locomotives were then pasted with illustrations of Haldiram’s popular sweets and snacks such as rasgulla, gulab jamun, bhujia sev etc.