Workers of Tamil Nadu Highways department road maintenance workers held 72 hours non-stop agitation opposing the privatization of the road maintenance work in the last week of July. Highways department of Tamil Nadu maintain about 11,594 K.m. of state highways, 11,289 K.m. of district main roads, 34,160 km of districts other roads and 2,250 Kms of National Highways.
Government of Tamil Nadu has taken decision to privatize the maintenance of these roads. It is going ahead with its implementation. In the first stage, it is handing over 378 k.m. of roads of Pollachi region to a private company at a cost of Rs.237 Crores for the next 5 years. It would cost only 80 Crores if it were to be maintained by Highways road maintenance workers. By this privatization, government of Tamil Nadu is fattening the capitalists by over spending Rs.157 Crores of people’s tax money! Following Pollachi region, government of Tamil Nadu has planned to privatize Ramanathapuram, Krishnagiri, Karur, Namakal and the entire roads network of the state.
This privatization project plans of the government meant to satisfy the greed of the capitalists, has made the future of 9,600 workers currently employed by the Highways department uncertain. Besides, these private companies will collect toll from the travelling public to further fatten them. Road maintenance workers of Tamil Nadu are demanding that this anti-worker, anti-people privatization plans of government should immediately be abandoned.
Large number of workers from many districts took part in this militant struggle. Workers pointed out that this is only a token agitation and if government does not withdraw their anti-worker privatization plans, they would intensify their struggle in the coming days.