State transport secretary Sajal Chakraborty (right) with the protesters at the state bus depot in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The rundown state bus stand near Ranchi Overbridge and the rickety transport service run by the state government can hope for a fresh start.
Three years after an initiative to set up the Jharkhand Road Transport Corporation drew a blank, transport secretary Sajal Chakraborty on Thursday gave strong indications to form a committee headed by a retired chief secretary-level officer for providing independent consultation for formation of the same.
Chakraborty was at the bus stand to hold talks with members of Jharkhand State Road Transport Workers’ Union, also known as Shramjeevi Sangh, who were on a hunger strike since January 27 for various demands, including formation of the corporation.
He said that his department would request the government to consider the demands.
“I guess transport minister Champai Soren is also interested in having the corporation. So I will soon request him to form a committee under retired chief secretary level officer whose job will be to work in tandem with the department and transport workers’ union to present a solid case so that government can reverse its decision,” Chakraborty said.
Following his assurance, the 226 transport workers under the banner of Shramjeevi Sangh ended their strike on Thursday.
In 2011, then transport secretary M.S. Meena had taken initiative for setting up the corporation but his efforts had failed due to reasons best known to the department.
Addressing mediapersons at the bus stand on Thursday afternoon, Chakraborty stressed on the need of having a corporation to uplift the derailed road transport system in this state.
“If I am not mistaken, almost a decade back, the government took a decision to not form Jharkhand State Tourism Corporation on the lines of Bihar State Tourism Corporation after the creation of a separate state. I wasn’t in the department then, but I feel the basic reason behind it was that the state thought it wouldn’t be a commercially viable option,” said Chakraborty.
He, however, added that he believed that having a corporation now would prove beneficial for overall improvement of the transport system and end private monopoly.
“Also, the corporation can be entrusted with the task of buying new buses, repairing old ones that are gathering dust at depots, upgrading government bus stands and creating employment among other things,” Chakraborty added.
According to Naveen Choudhary, a senior member of the protesting union, roughly 526 employees working with Bihar State Transport Corporation got shifted to Jharkhand cadre after formation of the state.
“But due to lack of any proper induction policy, many of us were either given lower grade jobs like peons, clerks while others were denied any posting. Till today, many past dues have not been cleared and there has been no wage revision,” Choudhary said.
He rued that they were being paid under the fourth pay commission while sixth pay commission recommendations had already come into effect at other places.