Governor Approves Merger Bill to End Stalemate over TSRTC
In a significant development, the prolonged standoff concerning the merger of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) with the state government has come to an end. Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan agreed to the state government’s idea of presenting the merger bill in the Legislative Assembly, which helped to resolve the deadlock. Following the governor’s consent, the government promptly introduced the bill, which was subsequently passed by the Assembly through a voice vote.
Governor Soundararajan’s endorsement was accompanied by ten recommendations aimed at safeguarding the interests of TSRTC. These recommendations covered various aspects, including the division of assets between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as outlined in the AP Reorganisation Act. Notably, the governor stressed that the ownership of land parcels, assets, and properties of TSRTC should be vested with the corporation. To ensure accountability, the government was urged to provide a clear commitment in this regard.
Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, addressing the Assembly on the matter, expressed his confusion over the governor’s request for numerous clarifications, which seemed to have delayed what he considered a straightforward process. He dismissed allegations that the government’s motivation behind the merger was to sell valuable RTC assets situated in prime urban locations.
Rao also sought to allay concerns regarding the welfare of RTC employees and the safety of RTC assets post-merger. He admitted that the previous government had opposed a merger in 2019, but current circumstances, including mounting losses suffered by the corporation, had compelled the change of stance. The State Cabinet extensively deliberated on the matter on July 31 before arriving at the final decision.
One of the key driving factors behind the merger was the considerable increase in diesel prices from 60 to over 100 per liter. This spike significantly affected RTC’s revenue, given its daily requirement of six lakh litres of diesel. Chandrashekhar Rao emphasized the government’s social responsibility to provide affordable public transport, a crucial lifeline for the common people in their daily commutes. Merging the corporation was seen as a strategic move to allocate sufficient budget resources to strengthen its operations.
The Chief Minister highlighted that the state government already allocated a substantial sum of 1,500 crores annually to TSRTC in the State Budget to support its operations.
Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar, who presented the merger bill, outlined the operational structure post-merger. He explained that TSRTC would continue to operate under the administrative control of the transport, roads, and buildings department. The vice chairman and managing director would lead the corporation, ensuring continuity in leadership. Importantly, employees would be seamlessly absorbed into public service as government employees. The existing service rules of TSRTC would remain in effect until new rules are formulated.
Regarding financial implications, Minister Ajay Kumar acknowledged that the merger would impose an additional burden of approximately 3,000 crores per year on the state government. He provided assurance that contract and outsourced workers would maintain their existing benefits and salaries in line with state service regulations.
Governor Soundararajan’s recommendations aimed at protecting TSRTC’s interests included provisions for equitable emoluments for RTC employees in comparison to state government employees. She emphasized the importance of a more compassionate and humane approach to disciplinary proceedings within RTC, aligning them with government employee service rules. The governor also advocated for the safeguarding of benefits and salaries for contract and outsourced employees in accordance with state service rules.
The governor’s recommendations further covered crucial aspects such as the provision of health benefits for both regular and contract employees, and the government’s responsibility in maintaining RTC assets like buses.