Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao today announced the privatisation of 50% of the state’s bus services and set a three-day deadline for agitating employees to resume their duties.
After a five-hour marathon meeting the chief minister announced that as many as 5,100 private buses would be given permits to run on specific routes.
The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) used to run 10,400 buses, out of which over 2,000 buses were already private and another 2,000 were in a dilapidated state.
Rao said that the privatisation move, which is being opposed by trade unions, is a policy decision of the cabinet and cannot be reversed by anybody. He also pointed out that the central government’s recent amendment of the Motor Vehicles Act allows states to privatise in order to ensure sustainability.
“It is, however, not our intention to deprive striking employees of their job. We know that they are being misled by union leaders. We are giving them a wonderful opportunity to return and retain their job. They must rejoin unconditionally by November 5 midnight. But if they insist on being misled and losing their jobs, no one can help them,” K Chandrasekhar Rao said.
The employees of the TSRTC are on a strike for almost a month now.
The chief minister warned the striking employees that they could soon be considered “self-dismissed” for joining an agitation deemed illegal by the state government.
The state government counsel even told the Telangana High Court that striking employees can’t be paid for the month of September because the corporation cannot dispense Rs. 239 crore in salaries when it has less than Rs. 10 crore in its coffers. The strike, it claims, has caused the TSRTC a revenue loss of up to Rs. 175 crore.
With the state Government not relenting the transport unions have intensified strikes.
Three suicides and multiple incidents of employees suffering fatal heart attacks were reported since the agitation began on October 5.