Bulk consumer tag on KSRTC to stay

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is yet to get the Rs.14-crore assistance promised by the State government to ‘absorb’ the additional fuel bill on account of having to pay market rates for high-speed diesel from January 19.

The Cabinet took the decision to provide Rs.14 crore each for two months on January 28.

Official sources told The Hindu that the corporation was yet to get the amount though the Finance Department had initiated the process.

The KSRTC was finding it difficult to sustain as it had commenced schedules that were curtailed since January 19 as it did not have money to purchase fuel at Rs.60.25 a litre, a top official of the corporation said.

The hope that the Centre would lift the ‘bulk consumer’ tag on KSRTC seemed to fade following talks between State Transport Minister Aryadan Mohammed and Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi on Monday. A permanent solution had to be found in the State itself, he said.

Despite the severe financial crisis and drop in daily collection due to the lean month of February (in view of school examinations), KSRTC was able to pay salary and wage bill of 40,180 staff which came to Rs.41 crore this month.

The management was also able to pay pension to 37,000 persons after a delay of 27 days this month. The corporation utilised the Rs.20 crore that was allowed to be taken from the pension fund by the High Court and the Rs.10 crore it had.

The KSRTC needed 4.3 lakh litres of diesel a day and the purchase of fuel at market rates entailed an additional expenditure of Rs.15 crore a month.

From the Rs.4.3 crore daily revenue collection, the corporation had to provide around Rs.2 crore towards the escrow account and pension fund. In addition, a sum of Rs.2.1 crore had to be given daily to the Indian Oil Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum.

“This is leading to a crash crunch and the corporation is finding it difficult to make both ends meet,” the official said.

The corporation cannot look towards the Kerala Transport Development Finance Corporation (KTDFC) as it had already availed of Rs.1,580 crore, including Rs.1,200 crore to pay pension over the years. The KSRTC was seeking Rs.240 crore from the State and a waiver on the 19.8 per cent sales tax levied on diesel to overcome the crisis.