OVER 13 lakh passengers, who travel by Haryana Roadways (HR) buses, including the luxurious Volvos, may face trouble after HR employees went on strike from Monday afternoon, blocking the movement of 4,200 buses across the state. The powerful employees’ bodies have opposed 871 bus permits given to private players for 273 routes in the state, calling it an effort to “privatise the roadways”.
Senior employees’ leaders have announced that the chakka jam strike would continue till the government withdrew private bus permits. Transport Minister Krishan Lal Panwar said they have called a meeting on Tuesday with employees’ leaders to resolve the issue. “I have urged the employees’ leaders not to discontinue bus services till the Tuesday meeting.”
The employees’ bodies were upset because of efforts to make private operators run their buses.
“We fail to understand why the government is keen to hand over so many routes to the private players when Haryana Roadways is known as one of the best public undertakings in the country because of its better services. But, the government seems to be in a hurry to benefit few people by giving them bus permits,” charged Subhash Lamba, general secretary of Sarv Karmchari Sangh (SKS), an umbrella organisation of 108 trade unions in Haryana.
The employees’ unions want the government to buy more buses. “According to the population of the state, there is a need for 10,000 additional buses which may create 60,000 new jobs in the state roadways,” said Lamba.
“At a meeting held between Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and employees’ leaders on March 29, the SKS had opposed the handing over of 273 routes to private players. Then, the government had clarified that they have not notified any policy to give bus routes to private players,” he claimed. “But the additional chief secretary not only notified such policy but also initiated secret efforts to run private buses on many routes,” alleged Lamba. The government employees opposed such move at every place, including in Palwal and Jhajjar.
“When the private bus operators tried to run their buses in Jind by parking them in front of the bus stand, the roadways employees ensured chakka jam of the buses,” said S K S president Dharambir Phaugat. The roadways employees went on strike across the state from 4 pm on Monday when a meeting between the employees’ leaders and Additional Chief Secretary (Transport) S S Dhillon failed to pacify the agitators.
“The employees decided to go on strike when Dhillon said private bus permits would be given at any cost,” said Phaugat.
However, Dhillon has expressed surprise over the move to call strike. “We have not issued new bus permits. These permits were being given for the past many years,” said Dhillon.