Over 4,000 Haryana Roadways buses were back on the road late this evening after employees called off their 'chakka jam' following talks with the state government, which decided to bring a new transport policy. The Roadways employees had struck work today to demand withdrawal of permits to private bus operators under the existing policy. The strike, to protest the permits given under the 2016- 17 transport policy, inconvenienced thousands of commuters who depend on Haryana Roadways buses for commuting. Haryana Roadways Workers Union leader Sarbat Singh Punia said this evening that the government has assured them that it would soon bring a new transport policy and immediately withdraw the previous policy. Multiple round of talks had been held between the state government and striking employees' representatives during the past two months to break the deadlock, but they had failed to yield much. Today, state Transport Minister Krishan Lal Panwar held a marathon meeting with union leaders here. "The government has again assured us that it will scrap the old transport policy and replace it with a new one," Punia said after the talks. He said that the government has talked about giving private permits in rural areas under the new policy, which they have opposed. "We will see what steps the government will take in the coming days because in the past too they had made promises. For the time being, the roadways employees have ended the strike.
However, if the government backs out from its promise again then we may be forced to intensify the agitation," Punia said. In April this year, the state government and roadways employees unions had reached a consensus to end the strike on the fourth day. At the time, the government had agreed to scrap the new transport policy of 2016-17. However, it was decided that 844 buses would continue to ply on old routes under the previous transport policy till the new policy was finalised. About thousands of commuters put to inconvenience as the Roadways employees have been frequently going on strike recently, Punia said, "We don't want to inconvenience common people, but people will understand that what we are doing is in everybody's larger interest." Rather than thinking of privatising the roadways, the government should think of adding more buses and improving services, the union leader said. There is also a shortage of drivers and conductors. As many as 16,000 buses are needed to cater to the 2.5 crore population of Haryana, he said. "There is no demand to privatise roadways from the people of Haryana, so why should the government show haste," Punia said. During the strike, the employees staged demonstrations at various depots, including Hisar, Ambala, Kaithal, Jind and Rohtak and raised slogans in support of their demands.
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