By now the aam aadmi is accustomed to the ‘sleeping giant’ posture that the state government adopts whenever auto rickshaw unions put the brakes onthe city’s working life. Monday was no different. Authorities couldn’t do much to stop the Sharad Rao-led auto rickshaw union from going on strike. Rather, they were only making alternative arrangements by adding more bus services and assisting people with their travel schedule. MiD DAY spoke to SK Sharma, principal secretary (transport), Maharashtra, on why the government failed to contain the strike and what will be the future course of action.
Will any steps be taken by the government against the auto rickshaw union for going on strike?
This strike surely affected lakhs of people who struggled while travelling. The move was totally unjustified and wrong. The transport commissioner will take necessary action against those who went on strike, ias per the law.
Why couldn’t the government stop them from going on strike?
We did everything possible, but the auto unions should be more responsible. They shouldn’t have gone on strike. We have accepted some of their demands including the hike in fares and setting up a committee to look into their problems.
How does the government plan to prevent such strikes in future, especially when they are happening so frequently?
We will have to seriously think about tackling such situations. They are setting a wrong precedent and it is not acceptable that suddenly some union or the other declares a strike. The government will think of stringent measures that could be taken the next time such a strike is called. These unions, by not operating the rickshaws, have caused severe inconvenience to people at large.
Did alternative transportation planned by the government prove sufficient?
There were many buses, including those operated by state transport and BEST that were running on the roads. However, no matter what provisions we make, the public has to face some problems.