Hyderabad: Road Transport Corporation employees and workers called off their eight day old strike on Wednesday following announcement of 44 per cent fitment by the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. The striking workers, who relented immediately, broke into celebrations all over the state with the generous gesture of the Government. A string of meetings between the two sides culminated in the agreement that fetched the RTC employees one per cent more in terms of fitment over others.

Apart from conceding the demand for pay revision, the Chief Minister assured a bailout package for the State Road Transport Corporation, which was neck deep in troubles with debt burden. Justifying his offer of a higher fitment for the RTC staff, the CM explained that that there was no pay revision for the RTC employees in the past two years. He blamed the previous governments for the raw deal meted out to them.

The striking employees, who were in no mood to give up without their genuine demands accepted, stuck to their guns despite high court directives calling for an immediate end to the stir. Besides implementing revised pay, the government had agreed to pay the arrears. The new salaries would be paid to the employees on July 1.

Students appearing for EAMCET exams on Thursday heaved a big sigh of relieved all over the State after finding the buses back on roads. The Chief Minister said that arrears amounting to Rs 1387 crores, would paid in the form of bonds, payable after five years and partly in cash- to be paid on the eve of Dasara of this year and on Ugadi and Dasara of next year. He said the implementation of new salaries would cost the corporation Rs 820 crores additionally.
He said the corporation has been paying Rs 186 crore pen annum towards debt servicing as it was left with a debt burden of Rs 1,900 crores after bifurcation. The CM said that mishandling of urban transportation was the main reason for the losses of the Road Transport Corporation. The corporation had lost around Rs 400 crore per annum on this count. "Urban transportation is a loss making proposition all over the world. Major cities like New York, London, Barcelona and Paris are not an exemption. However,

they handled the situation cleverly by cross subsidizing, he said.
He promised that the cases filed by the police on the RTC workers during the strike would be withdrawn and the suspensions revoked. Government would put all its efforts to save RTC from going bankrupt as the ruling party was firm on protecting the public sector units as a policy. He blamed the Centre for not coming to the rescue of RTC, stating that if it was making profits, they would have claimed their share without bothering about the losses. The Centre has 33 per cent equity in RTC and the State would write to the Centre to share the debt burden, the CM explained.

He said that as part of restructuring of the RTC, GHMC would be made a partner in RTC operations in Hyderabad, where about 3,800 buses were ferrying lakhs of passengers. The CM said that the acts related to public transport would be amended for making GHMC a part of the RTC and the civic body would contribute Rs 200 crores to the public transport organization. The Chief Minister said that the government had social responsibility also. So was the case with the RTC also, he added.
Ruling out the possibility of giving concession to the RTC in VAT on diesel and MV tax, the Chief Minister said that to meet the burden of the revised pay scales, the public transport body would be allowed to hike the charges. He said that government would provide grants to the RTC from the State budget to ease its debt burden. "We would mobilise around Rs 800 crores from various means to save RTC,” he said. The intervention of the State government and the GHMC would help ease the debt burden on the RTC to a major extent. The corporation had to manage the rest by improving its efficiency.

Explaining his plans for reviving the fortunes of the RTC, he recalled that, as the minister of transport in the past, he could help the corporation, that was already losing by Rs 10 crores a year, make a profit of Rs 11 crores. The CM said that RTC’s past glory could be revived by revamping the entire administrative system. He said that efficient officers would be made managers of the depots and worker friendly atmosphere would be created.

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