24-hr transport strike begins; impact seen in various states
The 24-hour transport strike began on Thursday, affecting normal life in several parts of the country including in Kerala and Karnataka, even as the Centre asked private operators and employees of state transport authorities to call off their strike.
In Kerala, public transport buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws were off the roads, although private vehicles were plying.
The strike has been called jointly by national level road transport organisations representing both public and private sector workers which are affiliated to central trade unions like AITUC, CITU, BMS, INTUC, HMS, AICCTU, LPF and state-level outfits in protest against the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2015.
Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari appealed for calling off the strike, terming their concerns as 'premature'. He said that wide consultations would be held with all stakeholders on the bill.
Commuters in Thiruvananthapuram, who depend on Kerala State Transport Corporation buses, had tough time reaching their work places as the buses did not operate.
No untoward incident has been reported from any part of the state since the strike began at midnight on Wednesday.
Examinations being conducted by various universities in the state have been postponed due to the strike.
Services of public transport buses and auto rickshaws were also affected in different parts of Karnataka.
Incidents of stone pelting on public transport buses were reported from different parts of the state including Bengaluru, Hubballi, Bellary and Raichur, Mysuru.
Transport department officials said they are plying buses based on the requirement as the number of passengers coming to bus stands is scarce, adding that they are also trying to convince the employees to attend to duty and not to cause hindrance to public.
Unions are opposed to various provisions including obtaining fitness certificates even for light motor vehicles regularly, even as they are up in arms against the stringent penalties proposed for road accidents.
NDA's southern ally PMK has extended support to Thursday's strike, with the party describing it as a 'black legislation' which would affect various stakeholders in the transport sector.
In the North, bus services of state-owned roadways and private operators remained paralysed in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
Meanwhile, in Karnataka, the KSRTC issued a circular on Wednesday asking its employees to attend the duty.
Transport minister Ramalinga Reddy said that "as almost all state transport employees are likely to participate in the strike, there may be problem in plying buses".
Bengaluru city police chief M N Reddi said elaborate security arrangements have been made in the city on account of transport strike and has warned of strict action against stone pelting and any form of forceful imposition of strike, as also over charging.
However, the impact of the strike call given by various transport unions in Tamil Nadu had little impact on normal life in the state as a majority of vehicles including government buses plied.
Government buses were plying as usual even as a section of private buses, lorries and auto-rickshaws kept off the road, police said.