HYDERABAD: Hardening his stand against the agitating employees of Telangana Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), the state cabinet has decided to privatize nearly 50 percent of the bus routes operated by the state utility across the state.
The cabinet has also set a fresh deadline of November 5 for the striking employees to give up their stir, which is the longest in TSRTC, and rejoin the duty. The employees had started the strike on October 5, demanding merger of TSRTC with the government and hike in wages for the employee.
Talking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on Saturday, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao said that the state cabinet has decided to allot 5,100 of the 10,400 routes to private operators and warned that the other routes would also be given to them if those on strike fail to join duty by the midnight of November 5.
Clarifying that only "loss-making" routes would be given to private operators, Rao said the Centre would be informed about the state government's decision on allotting routes as was laid down in their new guidelines. He pointed out that the Centre has paved the way for private operators in the state-run RTC by passing the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019.
Rao said a transport commission would be set up to regulate the private operators so that the passengers are not fleeced. He added that the Cabinet has decided not to merge the RTC with the state government, a key demand of the employees.
Rao said the government is neither harsh nor attempting to suppress the RTC employees, saying their salaries had been hiked by 67%. Rao blamed opposition parties and Union leaders for allegedly instigating the striking employees.
There is no sign of striking unions acceding to the CM’s appeal. On the contrary, they have decided to move the Central government for its intervention to resolve the issue.
Ashwathama Reddy, leader of the Join Action Committee (JAC) of RTC unions, said they were planning to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah to seek the Centre's intervention into the issue between them and the government. They planning to go to Delhi on 4 or 5.
The JAC has also announced a 'sadak bandh' (road closure) on November 5. On November 9, they will organise a Chalo Tank Bund. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been supporting the unions, has agreed to take up the matter with the party’s national leadership. As part of this, Telangana BJP President K Lakshman also left for Delhi on Saturday (with inputs from agencies).
Image Credit: Telangana Today