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SRTC staff, minister on collision course

india Updated: Jul 13, 2006 01:13 IST

A CONFRONTATION seems inevitable between 38,000 agitating UP State Transport Corporation staff and Transport Minister Naresh Agarwal, who has already stayed the ongoing proceedings for recruitment and purchase of buses and has threatened to privitise all routes if the employees failed to mend their ways.

UP State Roadways Employees’ Union general secretary Tej Bahadur Sharma is adamant to go on State-wide indefinite strike from August 15 and has convened a meeting of the Central Committee of the union on July 19, to take its approval for the same, while the Government is gearing up with ESMA and other punitive measures to deal with the employees.

Challenging the minister to take ‘drastic measures’ against the employees, Sharma said that the corporation was not the personal property of the minister and its main aim was to provide services at reasonable rates, not to earn profits. Then how come the minister was now talking about revenue?

On the other hand, Transport Minister Naresh Agarwal warned employees and asked them to solve all issues through discussions, as he would not tolerate any indiscipline.

In fact, both warring parties have some valid points but there seems to be a communication gap between the two, as both parties are busy only in making allegations and counter allegations instead of finding a way out to break the deadlock.

Talking to the Hindustan Times here on Wednesday, an enraged Transport Minister Naresh Agarwal ruled out the possibility of any discussion or talks with agitating employees or their leaders and squarely blamed them for UPSRTC losses. Why was the load factor of the corporation’s buses was a meager 59 per cent against 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the private operators and why travelling in UPSRTC buses was the costliest in comparison to Railways or private sector buses, Agarwal asked.

He informed that this pitiable condition prevailed over the years despite the fact that the corporation buses get four rupee concession on every liter of diesel, pay no Trade Tax on purchase of spare parts and other items, ply the buses on monopolized and the best routes in the State.

Agarwal said employees must first improve their efficiency before raising unreasonable and impractical demands. Terming the demand of merger of the DA with the basic pay as absurd, the minister said that service conditions and policy for all corporations were being framed and decided by the Public Enterprises Bureau and were implemented in all corporations simultaneously. How was it possible to provide certain benefits and scales to the employees of only the UPSRTC not payable to other corporations’ staff, he asked.

An equally stubborn and adamant Tej Bahadur Sharma, however, rejected all arguments of the minister and accused Naresh Agarwal of being hand-in-glove with private bus operators who were allowed to ply 27,000 buses and 10,000 maxi cabs on 84.40 per cent of the ‘pucca’ and best available routes, while the UPSRTC buses were running on hardly on 15.60 per cent of the total routes.

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