The decision was taken by the Telangana State Hire Bus Owner’s Welfare Association (TSHBOWA), as the government is yet to clear their dues of Rs 70 crore.

Private bus operators in Telangana hired during TSRTC strike now plan similar protestFile photo/PTI
news Protest Friday, January 03, 2020 - 16:37

In a cruel irony, the private bus owners who came to the rescue of the government when the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) employees went on a two-month strike, are now planning to protest against the government in a similar fashion by doing a ‘Vanta Vaarpu’ programme and laying siege to the Regional Manager’s Offices of the TSRTC from Monday, if the government doesn't clear their dues of Rs 70 crore immediately, said Telangana State Hire Bus Owner’s Welfare Association (TSHOBWA).

TSHOBWA claims that they were on the government's service for three months--October, November and December. They said they have given representation to the TSRTC Managing Director Sunil Sharma appealing to release their dues at least on 10 occasions, but their pleas remained ignored, they alleged.

Speaking to TNM, TSHOBWA president L Prabhakar said, “We are facing the same fate of the TSRTC employees. Each time, we met the MD, he kept deferring the date. Tired of this, now, we too are planning to do a similar protest like how they did during the strike. If the government doesn’t respond positively, from Monday, we will protest. The protest will include the ‘Vanta Vaarpu’ programme in the bus depots.” 

Vanta Vaarpu is a unique protest of cooking in public which gained prominence during the Telangana statehood agitation. This form of protest was adopted by agitating TSRTC employees during the strike which began on October and continued till November. 

Prabhakar rued, “As we couldn’t repay the money, financiers have seized our vehicles. We couldn’t pay for our drivers. Who is accountable for this?” he asked.

TSHBOWA also said that the TSRTC has levied penalty on them without being considerate of the tense situation. “During the strike, some bus routes were risky, as the hired drivers and conductors were attacked by the agitating employees. And the drivers avoided going there. Ideally, for not doing the promised service, TSRTC should have declared it ‘no pay’, but instead they have levied penalty on us. Is this how they treat us?” asked TSHBOWA general secretary, V Yadaiah.

The dues of Rs 70 crore also includes the reimbursement of fuel. 

The Telangana government hired private bus carriers, temporary drivers and conductors in October, after the TSRTC employees went on an indefinite strike demanding the merger of the TSRTC with the government, along with 25 other demands. The strike ended on November 25 after the Joint Action Committee called it off, as the government seemed in no mood to give in to their demands. The protest claimed more than a dozen lives. Some of them allegedly died depressed over the uncertainty of their jobs, while some killed themselves.


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