Bengaluru, April 30: India is witnessing a nationwide bandh on Thursday, April 30, called by various transport unions to protest the strict safety standards sought in the road safety bill.
On Wednesday, April 29, Road safety organisations and citizen groups around the country urged the government, which is under pressure from transport unions, not to succumb to their threats and dilute the Road Transport and Safety Bill. [Why bus, auto unions are protesting, call for bandh on April 30: Explained]
Normal life to be crippled due to bandh
The day-long strike has been called jointly by national level road transport organisations representing both public and private sector workers which are affiliated to central trade unions like All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), BMS, INTUC, HMS, AICCTU, LPF and state-level outfits.
However, a few operators have said that they will decide on the basis of the situation.
Delhi roads deserted
In the national capital, taxi and auto unions also announced one-day strike in protest against the 'Road Transport and Safety Bill-2014'.
Both auto and black and yellow taxies are off the roads. Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh and Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union, which are a part of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, said that they are against the bill.
Number of bus unions, including a section of DTC employees, are also extending their support to the strike.
Transporters claim that they will not operate at airport and railway stations which can cause commuting problems to thousands of passengers.
However, Delhi government said the strike will have no effect on the transport sector and usual number of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses will ply on the roads.
Bengal strike call: Mamata government, opposition on warpath
As West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee government and the ruling Trinamool Congress seemed to be going all out to foil the strike and shutdown called by the Left Front and the BJP on Thursday, the communists have threatened a "war" if the administration tried to thwart the protests.
As the political parties indulged in a slugfest, industrialists complained that the strike and shutdown would not serve any purpose.
Rajasthan Roadways union to go one one-day strike
Buses plying under Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation went off roads from midnight on Wednesday, in a protest by Roadways union against the Centre's new bill on road safety and transport.
In protest, over 22,000 employees are on a one-day strike, which would cause a revenue loss of Rs 5 crore to RSRTC, affecting over 10 lakh passengers. The 24-hour strike began from midnight as per the trade union's notice.
Citizens urge govt for strict road safety bill
Responding to the strike called by the transport unions against the bill and reports of significant dilution of the draft bill, the organisations and affected families have requested the government "not to compromise on the safety of road users". [Buses, autos will be off roads on April 30]
In the latest version of the bill, uploaded on the website of the ministry of road transport and highways, the government has slashed penalties to as low as R 500, even for life-threatening traffic violations. [All-India transport strike on April 30: Which services will be available in Bangalore]
It has also significantly diluted the powers of the proposed safety regulator by creating provisions to supersede its authority.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, over 10 lakh people have been killed on India's roads in the last decade. [Trouble for Indians: Transport strike to bring India to a standstill tomorrow]
Last year, after union cabinet minister Gopinath Munde died in a road accident, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had promised that a new law with best practices in road safety would replace the archaic Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the statement said.
The first draft of the bill was released on September 13, 2014, followed by three more versions till date.
Gadkari appealed transporters to call off proposed strike
Asking transporters in states to call off their proposed strike on Thursday to protest some provisions in new Motor Bill, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said their concern is premature and assured that decisions will be taken after wide consultation only.