04-09-201904-09-2019 10:00:16 IST
Updated On 04-09-2019 14:05:26 ISTUpdated On 04-09-20192019-09-04T04:30:16.631Z04-09-2019 2019-09-04T04:30:06.185Z - 2019-09-04T08:35:26.370Z - 04-09-2019
Continuing with his spree of fulfilling all major pre-poll promises, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has agreed, in principle, for the merger of APSRTC into the state government. The process has been formally set in motion with a meeting of the state cabinet led by the chief minister approving the decision on Wednesday.
With this, about 53,000 workforce of the corporation will be treated as ‘state government employees’ once the process is completed.
The demand for APSRTC’s merger into the state government has been hanging fire for several decades. Successive governments were only seen making tall promises before the elections but only to ‘flatter and deceive’ later, creating an impression that the idea is practically unviable for any government.
When YS Jaganmohan Reddy too harped on this promise during and after his historical paadayatra or foot march, it was only received with a sense of pessimism given the ‘history of cold-shouldering’ attached to it.
But after coming to power, the young chief minister has constituted a study committee for a holistic look at the feasibility of the merger. He promised that a favourable decision would be taken within 60-90 days. On Tuesday, the committee led by APSRTC former MD Anjaneya Reddy submitted its report to the chief minister. The panel that studied the issue comprised Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy, Transport Minister Perni Venkatramaiah (Perni Nani), Transport Commissioner T Krishna Babu and APSRTC MD N Surendra Babu.
After holding detailed discussions with the committee members on the recommendations made in the report, Jaganmohan Reddy gave his in-principle approval for the transport corporation’s merger, triggering a wave of celebrations among the APSRTC workforce.
Announcing Jagan’s decision to the media later on Tuesday, Minister for Transport Perni Nani said that all the modalities for the merger would be worked out in due course of time. A new department in the name of ‘Public Transport Department’ would be created to facilitate the merger and all the APSRTC workforce would henceforth be treated as ‘state government employees’.
The creation of the new department is necessitated to overcome technical hindrances that come in the way of the corporation’s merger straightaway into the state government.
The merger will automatically enhance the retirement age of the corporation employees to 60 years on par with the state government staffers.
The landmark decision, once implemented, will put an additional burden of Rs 3,500 crores on the state’s exchequer. Even though the study committee made five proposals keeping in view the complexities involved in the proposed merger, the chief minister resolutely favoured the integration of the corporation into the government as it means the fulfillment of the promise he made in the YSRCP’s election manifesto.
Several unions of the corporation reacted to this news with overwhelming joy, seeing their decades-long wish finally on the horizon, due to the initiative of the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government. While terming the decision as ‘adventurous’, they hoped the merger process would be taken up in tune with the aspirations of the corporation workforce.
APSRTC, the state-owned corporation for public transport, has always been an intriguing puzzle for successive governments. Despite the huge potential to emerge as the most profitable entity of public transport, the corporation has always been in perpetual losses. Political governments that ruled the state from time to time are largely to be blamed for the deterioration of the corporation for brazenly allowing private transport operators to thrive right under their nose, thereby blowing a big hole into APSRTC coffers.
Many political parties in the past have used the corporation’s merger demand to their advantage ahead of polls only to put the issue in cold storage after assuming power. But with Jaganmohan Reddy showing his resolve to ‘walk the talk’ on most of his poll promises within 100 days of coming to power, the long-pending dream is now beginning to translate into a reality.
-Durga Prasad Kanamaluru
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