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Bus operators in Uttarakhand call off stir after high court rap

The private bus operators in Kumaon on Tuesday called off their 12-day long strike after Uttarakhand High Court issued a warning that it has the power to dissolve the union and also set a deadline for bus operators to decide by 3 pm whether they would call of the stir or not

dehradun Updated: Jul 31, 2018 21:03 IST
Neeraj Santoshi
Neeraj Santoshi
Hindustan Times, Nainital
The high court asked bus operators to give an undertaking that they will not go on strike till the disposal of their representation by the transport secretary.(HT Photo)

The private bus operators in Kumaon on Tuesday called off their 12-day long strike after Uttarakhand High Court issued a warning that it has the power to dissolve the union and also set a deadline for bus operators to decide by 3 pm whether they would call of the stir or not.

A division bench of Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma, hearing a PIL filed highlighting the difficulties faced by the people in the hilly region due to the bus strike, issued the ultimatum to the private bus operators at 1 pm.

“The court said that it has the power to dissolve the union. The court also remarked that both public and private bus operators are licensees of the state government and as such, they can’t stop their operations like this,” said Dushyant Mainali, counsel of the petitioner. The PIL has been filed by one Neeraj Tiwari, a resident of Ramnagar in Nainital district.

Mainali said that around 1 pm, HC told the counsel of the private bus operators to decide by 3 pm whether they were ending their strike or not.

At 3 pm, SK Posti, representing the Kumaon Motor Owners Union Ltd, apprised the court that the bus operators have decided to call off their strike.

“Following this, the court directed that the private bus operators should make a representation regarding their demands before the transport secretary within a week and in the next two weeks after that, the secretary will take a decision on the issues raised by them,” Mainali said.

The court also asked the bus operators to give an undertaking that they will not go on strike till the disposal of their representation by the transport secretary.

It also issued notices to six bus unions in the state, directing them to file a reply within a week on the reasons for their participation in the strike.

The counsel of the state government apprised the court that as private bus operators have almost a monopoly on many routes in the hilly state, people were facing a lot of inconvenience due to the strike.

On Monday, the HC had sought a reply from the state government within 24 hours on the bus strike.

Tiwari’s PIL claimed that private bus operators cater to nearly 90 % of the passenger load in the hilly region and due to the strike, the state roadways buses were getting overloaded, which could lead to road accidents.

The private bus operators in Kumaon region were on indefinite strike for last 12 days, demanding hike in the passenger fare at par with the fare charged by the buses of Uttarakhand Transport Corporation.

The bus operators had met the state transport minister Yashpal Arya on Sunday, who had assured them that government will increase passenger fare of private buses by 15 %. But they were not happy with the assurance and refused to call off the strike. On Tuesday thousands of taxi operators had also gone on strike in support of the agitation by the bus operators.

Surendra Singh Duseela, president Kumaon Motor Owners Union Ltd said they called off their strike after HC’s directions that their demands would be heard by the transport secretary. “Nearly 1000 private bus operators of Kumaon region were on a strike for last 12 days to press for their demands,” he said, adding, “We are hopeful that the state government will now concede our genuine demands”.

“We are charging 95 paise for every kilometre, while the Uttarakhand Transport Corporation buses charge Rs 1.72 for every kilometre. Before the formation of Uttarakhand, the private bus operators and state roadways buses used to charge the same fare,” he said.

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 21:03 IST