No Bus Strike In Odisha For Now, Says Minister; Association Still Skeptical

Bhubaneswar: There will be no bus strike in Odisha for the time being, Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu asserted after the meeting with All Odisha Private Bus Owners’ Association (AOPBOA) at Kharvel Bhawan in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

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“The meeting with private bus owners’ association was fruitful. There will be no bus strike. All issues will be resolved through discussions. The association has been asked to submit its demands in writing by October 30. A departmental committee will look into them,” she said, adding that the government is running buses where the services are not available.

Association secretary Debendra Sahu, however, told the media that the meeting was neither a success nor a failure. “The bus strike has been postponed till October 31. It has not been called off. The general body of the association will take decision on further course of action on October 30,” he said.

The association had threatened to go on a strike from October 10, opposing the government’s Location Accessible Multimodal Initiative’ (LAccMI), but it was put on hold following assurance from the government that buses under the scheme will operate only from panchayats to blocks and not to district headquarters. An indefinite strike was then launched on October 20, coinciding with the commencement of Durga Puja festivities, as the government allegedly reneged on its promise. The association, however, postpone the strike till October 31 the very day.

“We have also urged the government not to introduce Mo Bus service in rural areas,” Sahu added.

The affordable bus service was launched by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik earlier this moth with an aim to connect all the gram panchayats with the district headquarters and the state capital.

Notably, Odisha heavily depends on private bus operators with around 14,000 private buses plying in the state against only 2,000 government buses.

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