Bengaluru, April 9 (IANS) Karnataka announced slew of measures including offering honorarium to retired drivers and conductors besides roping in private players to silence its employee rebellion in the state.
Apart from this, Karnataka is also contemplating to seek help from the armed and police forces to lend their drivers to overcome this crisis, Karnataka transport department principal secretary, Anjum Parvez told reporters here.
He said that the state government has many options before invoking serious measures by running busses taking help from armed forces and police. "These two are the biggest departments where drivers do exist. We can use them by handing over our bus keys to them," he said.
"At this juncture, we are collating data of those who retired as drivers and conductors in the last two years andA we will invite them to kick start our operations. If this falls short, then we can ask our armed forces to lend their drivers to run our operations. Above all, we can also have private operators running the show for us or till this crisis is over," he said.
He added that the state government had already finalised talks with private bus operators, who have agreed to lend their 18000 buses on a lease. "Karnataka has also already offered to them a slew of benefits like tax relaxations, cancellations of permits and fitness certificates in order to mitigate the crisis," Parvez said in response to a question.
He also appealed to employees not to stick to their stand in an adamant manner instead there should be some leeway to start the dialogue process.
"If the employees are sticking to their demand, then we have no option to launch our counterplan to help commuters," he said.
Parvez also added that neither the government nor the four state run corporations wish to harm anyone's interest. "Employees can not work without pay or less pay. Even after the state facing severe economic slowdown due to Covid, the government has released Rs 3,200 crore in the last fiscal only to lift the four state run transport corporations from losses and we were able to pay your salaries. This is a very great relief in such circumstances," he said.
Making an emotional appeal to the agitating employees, Parvez said that the employees strike is causing loss of Rs 20 crore a day and Corporations which has looked after its employees even under dire crisis, must not be harassed any further.
He added that all four state run transport corporations operate a fleet of 26,000 busses by its 1.37 lakh employees. "Of the four state run transport corporations three state run corporations - Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) and North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) operate fleet of 20,000 busses which look after the inter and intra state public transportation, while Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) that is responsible for ferrying passengers within Bengaluru city alone operates fleet of 6,000 busses," he explained.
Earlier, Karnataka Chief Minister, B. S. Yediyurappa said that he does not wish to deal with transport corporations employees but employees adamant stand on including them to on-par with the state government employees was just unacceptable by any standards.
After returning from a hectic campaign tour in Belagavi district where his party has fielded Mangala Angadi, widow of former Union Minister, Suresh Angadi, Yediyurappa said, "We have already fulfilled eight of the nine demands made by them. But unfortunately, the employees are being 'misguided' hence they have taken such irrational step of demanding their salaries to be brought on par with state government employees by implementing sixth pay commission recommendations."
While on the sidelines of taking part in a hectic poll campaign in Basavakalyana Assembly constituency, Deputy Chief Minister, Lakshman Savadi who holds the transport department, said that it was not possible to increase salaries by 30 per cent.
"We are reeling under severe loss. Please agree to the state government's decision to increase the salaries by eight per cent, which according to me is good preposition under present circumstances when the entire country is still in the grip of Covid," he said.