Bengaluru: The BMTC and autorickshaw unions will be taking part in the all-India bandh, in protest against higher penalties for drivers proposed in the Road Transport & Safety Bill. Most private cabs are booked, while the autorickshaws that will ply the city roads are expected to charge you more – as they already had late Wednesday!
With Friday (Labour Day) too being a holiday, much of the city has decided to skip work on Thursday and travel out of the city on Wednesday evening, leading to a big rush at several bus-stations across Bengaluru.
The all-India transport bandh on Thursday is expected to bring life to a standstill in Bengaluru and other parts of the state, as all state-run transport corporations – BMTC, KSRTC, NWKRTC and NEKRTC – will go off the road from 6 am to 6 pm.
The bandh has been called to protest against the Road Transport & Safety Bill, which imposes higher penalties on drivers. The bill has been proposed by the Union Transport Ministry. Some autorickshaw drivers and owners unions in the city too are taking part in the bandh. With over 1.2 lakh employees of state-run corporations going on strike, daily commuters in the city and across the state will be affected.
With Friday too being a holiday for Labour Day, many employees in the city are planning a long weekend. Eager to beat Thursday’s bandh, they rushed to several bus-stations across the city on Wednesday. Passengers, who had booked their tickets in KSRTC buses for Thursday, will be refunded. “We will start plying the services from Thursday night though,” a KSRTC official said.
Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said, “As almost all the unions are participating, we have to stop the service. About 7-8 months ago, all transport ministers from South India had a meeting with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, where he said he wanted a corruption free transport services and roadside amenities, and his suggestions were welcomed by us. He spoke about penalties for accidents as well and we were agreeable to it, but the quantum of punishment proposed in the bill is very high. It has to be redrafted reasonably.”
City Police Commissioner M.N. Reddi has urged Bengalureans not to treat Thursday’s strike as a bandh. “It is a transport strike being observed by trade unions. All KSRTC and BMTC buses will run and no one can force the strike on unwilling people. Also, essential transport services will run in the city and public can use their own transport without any fear. Bengalureans are requested not to treat this as Bandh, and try to go about their lives normally.”
Alok Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (West), said: “To ensure a peaceful strike, a platoon of 30 Karnataka State Reserve Police, 30 platoons of City Armed Reserve police, 500 Home Guards, 300 Civil defence personnel and other civil police officers will be deployed to ensure law and order situation on Thursday.”