January 3, 2020 12:21:54 pm
A showdown is brewing between the Haryana government and roadways unions again with the government introducing the kilometre scheme to run private buses despite unions’ opposition to the concept. The employee outfits have announced a two-day strike beginning from January 7 to oppose the move.
The state had witnessed an 18-day-long roadways employees strike in 2018 when the government had taken similar decision. The government officials say that the scheme has been introduced to bridge the gap of demand and availability of roadways buses adding that the current roadways fleet of about 4,000 buses can’t meet the requirements of the passengers.
However, union leaders have been suggesting the government add 14,000 additional government buses in the roadways fleet which will offer employment to 84,000 youths in the state. They also argue that such decision will ensure safe travel to the passengers, especially women and school-college girls, in government-run buses. However, the government has opted for the kilometre scheme keeping in view the financial implications involved in purchase of new buses.
When the government had announced the scheme in 2018, roadways employees had alleged major irregularities in the tendering process. Finally, the government had scrapped the permits for all 510 buses in July 2019 after the Haryana State Vigilance Bureau had found evidence of irregularities in the bidding for allotment of permits to the private players. Not only this, the bureau had also indicted some officials of the transport department for their role in the bidding process under the kilometre scheme.
The employees’ union leaders question the “hurry” in introducing the scheme again when the matter is still being heard by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. In a press statement, the leaders of Haryana Roadways Employees Coordination Committee, Inder Singh Badhana, Virender Singh Dhankhar, Dalbir Kirmara, Anup Saharawat, Sarbat Singh Punia, Pahal Singh Tanwar, Ajad Singh Gill and Dinesh Hooda have termed the move to be “aimed at privatisation of the transport services”. “We are getting full support from the public apart from the employees for our stir,” claims Punia while speaking to The Indian Express on Thursday.
Though the government has been claiming the initiative is aimed at helping the passengers. “According to an estimate, about 8 to 10 thousand buses are required in the state. This scheme has been introduced to fill this gap,” says Haryana Transport Minister Mool Chand Sharma.
Sharma informed that under the kilometre scheme, 150 buses will run soon in the first phase. In addition, “AC buses and Volvo buses will also be operated through the transport department under the kilometre scheme in due course”. Sharma also said that the state government has also planned to buy new buses for the Haryana Roadways. He said that approval for purchasing 150 minibuses and about 20 Volvo buses, 100 ordinary buses have been given and all these buses are likely to be added to the Haryana Roadways fleet before March 31, 2020. He claims that the buses running under the kilometre scheme are available at a rate of only Rs 26.92 per kilometer and this will provide better transport facilities to the public. Under the scheme, which is based on vehicle tracking system, the Transport Minister on December 27 flagged off five buses at Gurgaon.
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