KCR hints at privatisation of public transport, says RTC is a gone case
Nineteen days after he fired 48,000 employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) for going on a strike, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Thursday hinted at privatizing it.
“We shall take a decision in this regard in five or six day. It doesn’t even need a cabinet decision. I can decide the fate of the RTC with a simple signature and grant permits to more than 7,000 private buses to ply on the roads of Telangana, providing quality transport to the people at lesser fares,” KCR said at a press conference at Pragati Bhavan in the evening.
He said the government’s objective was to provide comfortable transport facility to the commuters and it did not matter whether it was a public transport or a private one.
The chief minister reminded that the NDA government itself had brought an amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act, empowering the states to take a decision on the public transport. “The Act came into force with effect from September 1. As per the Act, the states have the powers to privatise the public transport,” he said.
He said that many states in the country had no RTCs and in some other states, there were hardly a few buses in public sector. “Why aren’t the opposition parties talking about winding up of RTCs in those states?” he asked.
The chief minister said there was absolutely no possibility of running the RTC in the manner prevailing before the commencement of strike by the employees. “The end of the RTC is the only solution to the end of the strike. Nobody can save the RTC. It is a gone case and irreversible,” he said.
On the high court’s instructions to pay salaries to the employees, the chief minister said even the courts couldn’t do anything if there was no money with the RTC management or the government. “At the most, the court will refer the case to the industrial tribunal, which would only suggest that the RTC could sell its assets to pay the salary dues,” he said.
KCR blamed it on the employees’ unions for the sorry state of affairs in the corporation. “Because of their selfish and vested interests, the poor workers and employees are suffering. They have been insisting on the merger of the RTC in the state government, which is impossible and unreasonable,” he said.
Stating that he had no issues with poor drivers and conductors of the RTC, the chief minister said had they ignored the strike call of the unions, they could have seen the RTC in profits and got bonus up to Rs 1 lakh on the lines of Singareni workers.
“Who would have stopped them if they wanted to return to their duties? They could have given an application to the local depot managers and returned back into the duties,” he said.
Reacting sharply to the announcements of the chief minister, chairman of joint action committee of RTC employees’ unions E Ashwathama Reddy said the RTC was not the personal “jaagir” of KCR and asked the workers not to get disheartened with the chief minister’s threats.
“How can he say that the RTC is a gone case and the employees have been removed? We are not servants at his farmhouse. We are not afraid of such tantrums and fight till we achieve our goal. We have complete faith in judiciary,” Reddy said.
While the Congress is yet to react on KCR’s announcement on RTC, the Bharatiya Janata Party said the chief minister was acting like the CEO of a profit centric private enterprise than an elected chief minister of a democratically-run state government.
“His comments on RTC and its employees reflect his neo-capitalist mindset. He is behaving irresponsibly, when he underplays RTC role in the public transport system in the state,” BJP spokesperson K Krishna Sagar Rao said.