New Delhi: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Saturday set November 5 as the deadline for the striking employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) to report back to duty. The employees have been on a statewide strike since October 5 over several demands, including merger of the RTC with the state government.

Speaking to media on the issue, the Chief Minister said that of the 10,400 routes in the state, the Cabinet had decided to give 5,100 routes to private operators. He further warned that the remaining routes, too, would be given to private operators if the TSRTC employees did not rejoin duty by the midnight of November 5.

However, the Chief Minister, who is also known by his initials KCR, clarified that only loss-making routes would be handed to private operators.

Speaking to reporters, news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted KCR as saying, “I urge the employees to take this opportunity keeping in mind the welfare of their families. The government wants to give them one more chance.”

He added that a transport commission would be set up to ensure that private operators were not fleecing the passengers. He also accused the opposition parties in the state for provoking the TSRTC employees.

However, he also made it clear that the Cabinet had decided not to agree to the employees’ main demand of merging the RTC with the state government.

Over 48,000 employees of the TSRTC are currently on strike. Four other employees, meanwhile, have taken the extreme step of committing suicide.