Mysuru (K'taka) | Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday said some of the demands by private transporters', who are observing bandh today by staying off roads, are "impossible demands" and cannot be met. The Federation of the Karnataka State Private Transport Associations has called for a 'bandh' today, following which lakhs of private vehicles including autos, taxis, maxi cabs, goods vehicles and corporate buses have stayed off the roads, making commuting difficult for school students and office-goers, among others, who depend on them.
"In a democracy, we cannot put restrictions on bandhs and protests. They are the essence of democracy but they should be held peacefully that's all," Siddaramaiah said in response to a question on private transporters' bandh in Bengaluru.
Speaking to reporters here, the chief minister said he and Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy have heard their demands, "but if they keep impossible demands, it cannot be met." "We have implemented Shakti scheme (free transport for women in public transport buses), they are saying that -- they are facing problems because of it, as women are not going to private buses -- and so are asking the government to bear those losses, can that be done? It is practically not possible, the scheme is for the benefit of women," he said, adding that whether they are facing loss or not is a different matter.
The federation has called for bandh seeking a ban on bike taxis, and urging the government to extend the Shakti scheme -- that offers free bus rides to women on state-run transport buses -- to private buses as well, among other demands.
The private transporters have claimed that they have been negatively impacted by the Shakti scheme and that the state government has not fulfilled their demands despite repeated discussions.