Thousands stranded as Haryana Roadways employees go on strike
Thousands of commuters were stranded at various places in Haryana after the state roadways employees went on a flash strike as their talks with the government on the issue of permits to private operators failed on Monday evening.india Updated: Apr 11, 2017 09:36 IST
Thousands of commuters were stranded at various places in Haryana after the state roadways employees went on a flash strike as their talks with the government on the issue of permits to private operators failed on Monday evening.
About 3,500 buses, including 39 luxury ones (20 Volvos and nine Mercedes), mostly plying between Gurugram and Chandigarh, came to a halt at all bus stands in the state.
The state roadways employees had also observed a strike in Jind district on Sunday to protest the state government’s move to give permits to private firms to operate buses on 273 routes. Following this, the government had invited the employee union’s leaders for talks with additional chief secretary, transport, S S Dhillon. The talks that lasted for over three hours failed to make any headway, after which the union announced an indefinite strike around 5pm. Following the call, buses started reaching the respective depots.
Union general secretary Sarbat Poonia said they were shocked to learn about the government’s decision to give permits to private bus operators. “Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had assured us on March 29 that the government would not give any permits to private operators. Dhillon, however, told us that the government would give permits to private bus operators on 273 routes,” he said.
The union has been demanding the government’s monopoly on all routes to bring in more revenue for the state exchequer and provide employment to hundreds of people, said Poonia. He said according to norms, there should be 16,000 buses in the state, which would provide employment to 96,000 people. At present there are only about 4,000 buses, of which 3,500 are plying on roads, he said.
- Terming the strike by the roadways employees’ union “unfortunate”, Dhillon said he never told them that their demand would not be considered.
- “I told the union leaders about the decision to give permission to private operators on certain routes and that their demands and concerns were being considered at the highest level. I have asked all deputy commissioners and superintendents of police to check any disturbance arising out of the situation,” he said. He said he has also directed all district officials to ensure adequate security measures for private bus operators. State transport minister Krishan Lal Panwar has also convened a meeting with the union leaders on Tuesday, he said.
COMMUTERS HASSLED, SECURITY BEEFED UP
While only Jind depot had been observing a complete suspension of services for the past three days, other depots in the region, including Rohtak, Sonepat, Bhiwani and Jhajjar, joined the strike after talks between the roadways unions and government failed.
“If I knew this would happen, I would have made some alternative arrangements in morning. How will I return home now?” questioned Shilpi Bhartia, a student of Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, who commutes from Delhi daily.
A large number of commuters were also seen waiting at bus stands in Sirsa, Hisar and Fatehabad. Sandeep Gaat of Ludesar village in Sirsa said he had some important work in Delhi, but not a single bus was plying on the route.
Union worker Sohan Singh Randhawa said: “We are against the Haryana government’s decision. After the union’s call, we have closed the main gates of the Sirsa depot.”
Meanwhile, heavy police force was deployed in Sirsa, Fatehabad and Hisar to maintain law and order.
Fatehabad depot president Surajbhan Chopra said: “The government decision is against thousands of roadways workers.”
Haryana Roadways Karamchari Union president Deepak Balhara said their strike will be indefinite, until the government agreed to their demands. “This is a temporary pain to the public as against the permanent one the state government wants to give them by privatising transport. Such moves have ruined the public transport in Punjab and Rajasthan.”
In Karnal, the bus services remained normal till the evening. “The buses moving on the roads will take the passengers to their destinations, but no bus will move after reaching the depot,” said Haryana Roadways Joint Action Committee president Harinarayan Sharma. The roadways employees also held a protest earlier in the day in Karnal. Gaurav, a student from Indri, said: “The strike will put students to a lot of inconvenience as we rely on government buses for commute.”