VIJAYAWADA: The stage is set for the merger of cash-strapped Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) with the State government. Members of the committee, appointed by the State government to devise modalities for the merger, submitted its report to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy during a review meeting held at his camp office in Tadepalli on Tuesday,.
On June 14, the State government had issued orders constituting two committees — one to look into the possibilities of merger and the other to study the feasibility of replacing diesel buses with electric ones. The panels were asked to submit their report in 90 days after conducting a study.
In the report submitted by merger committee chairman C Anjaneya Reddy, the panel recommended the State government to form a public transport department with over 54,000 RTC staff. Guidelines in this regard are likely to be discussed during the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Apart from that, the committee also suggested to the government to increase the retirement age of RTC employees to 60 years from 58, introduce electric buses in a phased manner and revise ticket fare in a transparent manner.
Meanwhile, APSRTC Employees Union (EU), recognised union in the Corporation, welcomed the merger committee’s decision to form the public transport department.
“Finally, the RTC staff will be considered as government employees. We thank the Chief Minister for taking such a decision and fulfilling the long-pending demand of the staff,” said EU deputy general secretary P Damodar Rao. He said that the union will protest if the report has any mention against the interests of the employees such as reducing the number of staff. “Though the merger committee submitted its report to the Chief Minister, we are unaware of the suggestions made by it. We are hoping that our suggestions on the welfare of the employees such as job security, salary hike on par with government employees, pension for retired staff and others are mentioned in the report,” said EU State president YV Rao.
Transport Minister P Venkataramaiah said the State government has to bear Rs 3,300 crore to Rs 3,500 crore per annum towards payment of salaries for the RTC staff, once the merger is over.
“The Chief Minister has given in-principle nod to constitute the public transport department. All the benefits of government employees will be extended to the RTC staff also,” the minister said and added that necessary steps will be taken to provide facilities to passengers and strengthen the public transport system.