Hyderabad: South-Central Railway cancelled dozens of train services in Telangana on Friday ahead of a two-day ‘rail roko’ (train stoppage) protest, part of a 11-day-old indefinite strike in the region to press demands for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and creation of a separate state.
Some 231 trains, including 55 express trains, passing through the region were cancelled ahead of the strike starting at midnight organized by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC), an umbrella body of pro-Telangana groups. South-Central Railway also cancelled 222 metro train services in Hyderabad, said a statement on its website.
Auto and taxi drivers in Telangana will join the strike on Saturday, crippling the public transport system in a region where 70,000 striking workers have already taken 11,000 buses off the roads. The Andhra Pradesh government is running 250 buses in the region with police protection.
Government employees, teachers, electricity board workers, lawyers and doctors in the 10 districts of Telangana are taking part in the strike, demanding the early formation of a separate state with Hyderabad as its capital. Politicians from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions want Andhra Pradesh, a state of 85 million people, to remain unified, making it tough for the Centre to form a consensus on the issue.
Workers of Singareni Colleries Co. Ltd have been off the job since 13 September, halting coal production in mines spread over four districts of Telangana and causing a power shortage. Chief minister N.Kiran Kumar Reddy has sought the Centre’s help to tide over the power crisis and state authorities have started rationing electricity supply in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts.
Four public sector companies - Bharat Dynamic Ltd and its research and development department, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, Midhani Dhatu Nigam Ltd and Electronics Corp. of India Ltd - will join the strike on 26 September, said G. Deviprasad, general secretary of the Telangana Non-Gazetted Officers’ Association (TNGO).
Residents of the state capital had some cause for relief on Friday as sanitation workers of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation resumed work after staying off the job the previous two days. Public garbage bins had started overflowing and trash started piling up on the streets of the city, which generates 4,400 tonnes of waste a day, during the absence of the workers.
Sanitation workers yielded to public pressure to return to work, said K. Swami Goud, president of TNGO.
G.Vivekanand, a member of Parliament (MP) from the Congress, said party MPs and members of the legislative assembly from Telangana will meet the Congress leadership in New Delhi on Monday to discuss the separate statehood issue.