With the standoff between workers of the various road transport corporations in Karnataka continuing on Sunday, the state government has hinted about its plans to deploy private buses to close the gap in public connectivity in the state.
After meeting Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Saturday, Deputy CM and Transport Minister Laxman Savadi said he was hopeful that the issues would be resolved by today. “In case the protesting employees do not come forward for talks to resolve the issue, we will ask private operators to run buses from Bengaluru to other districts, and from districts to routes connecting taluks and villages. Private buses will be asked to serve commuters in Bengaluru Urban areas as well,” Savadi said.
Meanwhile, bus services continued to be hit on Sunday morning as well with the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) reporting only 66 bus services operating as of 8 am and the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) notifying only 56 buses in operation as at 9 am among others.
The indefinite strike by drivers and conductors had begun on Friday with them demanding them considered government employees, with pay on par with state government staff and compensation similar to Covid-19 frontline workers in an event of death due to the pandemic.
As the stir intensified, CM Yediyurappa accused farmers’ outfits of “instigating” employees of transport corporations. Naming farmers’ leader Kodihalli Chandrashekhar in a statement, Yediyurappa said, “He has instigated a section of transport employees to protest which has led to stone-pelting at KSRTC and BMTC buses. He is also responsible for causing loss to public property.”
The CM also added that it is unfortunate that the protesters are disrupting passenger services. “The strike is affecting passengers across the state,” he added.
According to the police, the protests were peaceful in general except for some incidents reported from the capital city. A total of nine people were arrested for allegedly assaulting and preventing BMTC staff to do their duties. “Two FIRs have been registered in Upparpet Police Station for assaulting BMTC staff, preventing them from operating buses on duty and threatening those who came to work,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Sanjeev M Patil said.
Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah spoke to Savadi urging him to resolve the issue as soon as possible. “I can understand the financial conditions of the government and other related issues. But the government should try to resolve the issue by holding discussions with the concerned. A method of mediation and negotiation should be adopted,” the former CM said.
In Bengaluru, Namma Metro is continuing to operate all its 50 trainsets on a higher frequency than usual during peak and non-peak hours, in a bid towards “mitigating the inconvenience to the public in view of the bus strike,” the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) stated.
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