Thousands of commuters across Haryana faced harassment at the hands of private vehicle owners on Tuesday after the state roadways staff went on strike protesting against the grant of route permits to private bus operators.
The state-run bus services were paralysed in the state. Buses remained parked at bus stands or at bus depots, and passengers were left stranded.
The roadways employees are protesting against the grant of route permits to the private operators and a new time table being allowed for private buses.
Local modes of transport such as taxis, auto-rickshaws and pedal-rickshaws made a fast buck from people wanting to reach their destination on time.
"I had to pay Rs.200 for a shared taxi for a short distance. The roadways strike only affects the common man," said Harinder, a daily commuter from Karnal.
The strike was called by various associations of employees, including the Haryana Roadways Workers Union, Haryana Sanyukt Karamchari Sangh and Haryana Roadways Mahasangh.
The striking staff held rallies at various places.
The president of Haryana Roadways Workers Union, Sarbat Singh Punia, said the decision to call for a strike was taken on Monday evening.
"The Haryana government is helping private bus operators at the cost of Haryana Roadways. They are allowed concessions on lucrative routes while Haryana Roadways have to ply buses even on non-profitable routes," Punia said.
A government spokesman said on Tuesday that roadways unions had been invited for discussions. He said the new time table was issued following directions from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The government has appealed to the workers to return to work to ensure that no discomfort was caused to the common man.