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Strike will cripple RTC, says Rajasekhara Reddy

Special Correspondent

Chief Minister appeals to employees not to strike work

NEW DELHI ANDHRA PRADESH: Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on Monday appealed to State Road Transport Corporation employees not to strike work, and urged them to work along with the Government to make the corporation function smoothly.

Stating that his Government had already stretched itself in providing funds to the corporation, Dr. Reddy told correspondents here that striking work at this juncture could adversely affect the occupancy ratio of the APSRTC which had recently increased its share.

The Chief Minister said several States such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa had seen closure of RTCs, and urged the employees to consider all factors, including the health of the corporation as well as the interest of people.

"Strike will lead to a loss and setback. Occupancy rate will go down and it may be difficult to regain it [in a competitive economy] and people will suffer. All these things have to be taken into account,'' Dr. Reddy said.

He said the State Government was providing Rs. 300 crores by way of concessions and lowering of taxes. The previous Telugu Desam Government, he said, had brought down the tax rate from 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent while his Government was now levying just 5 per cent tax. As regards pay hike, he said the Government agreed to implement it from April next year while the employees were demanding its implementation right away. "Where is the money?'' he asked.

Calls on Manmohan

The Chief Minister called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and urged the Centre to expedite relief to the State affected by flood. The State has already sought Rs.1,800-crore assistance and 17 lakh tonnes of rice. A Central team has assessed the damage and the quantum of relief has to be determined by the Group of Ministers. Dr. Reddy also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and discussed with her preparations for the Hyderabad plenary.

The Chief Minister said firm dates would be announced shortly and indicated that it would be in the latter part of January.

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