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Food supplies dept awards transportation contract to private firm; JKSRTC protests

By Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

Srinagar: The Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs has allotted the transportation contract to a private firm against the JK State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC).
Director of the department, Nisar Ahmad Wani, said the JKSRTC was charging more than the firm for the transportation of food-grains.
“Around Rs 5-6 lakh will be saved by this decision. We are getting cheap rates from the open market. There is a variation of 33% in the rates of the JKSRTC and the private firm,” he said.
Wani said, “We have been giving preference to the JKSRTC fleet, but they are not able to fulfill our requirement; we need more than 300 trucks.”
Wani said that JKSRTC has been providing private trucks in addition to their own fleet.
“There is a proper SRO. We are ready to take JKSRTC’s trucks provided they charge the market rates,” he said.
However, the JKSRTC employees have been saying that in 2001, the then-chief minister was apprised about the issues faced by the JKSRTC including the hiring of private vehicles by the government departments and PSUs.
“We also told the chief minister that we have been engaging trucks from open market on lower rates,” an employee in know of the developments said.
“Subsequently, SRO 157 was issued. As per the SRO, it is compulsory for the government departments and PSUs to hire the vehicles of JKSRTC.”
The employees said that the high court also passed an interim order in a case pertaining to SRO 157
“The court upheld the said SRO,” he said.
They said they cannot act as mute spectators and would fight for their rights.
Managing Director JKSRTC, Mir Afroz, said they have been providing genuine rates beside quality services.
“The rates provided have been fixed by the committee. Private vehicle owners have no rates,” he said.
He said that under Road Transport Act (RTA) of 1950, JKSRTC could hire vehicles in case the demand was high.
He said, “We can fully fulfill the transportation needs of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department.”
“We have a fleet of 450 trucks. We have no shortage of vehicles,” he said.
The JKSRTC employees began their two-day strike to protest the allotment of the contract to the private firm.