‘Only way to save RTCs and passengers from the impact of hike’
Very soon, you will see buses belonging to KSRTC, BMTC, NWKRTC and NEKRTC lining up in front of private fuel pumps for refuelling.
The corporations, which used to get dedicated bulk supply from public sector oil marketing companies (OMC) directly to their depots, have decided to discontinue this practice following the steep hike in high speed diesel (HSD) prices for bulk consumers.
The Rs. 11.95 hike in diesel for bulk consumers with effect from January 18 has come as a rude shock to these corporations, which have pegged the additional burden at Rs. 630.48 crore a year. The annual consumption of diesel by the four corporations is 5,27,600 kilo litres.
KSRTC Managing Director N. Manjunatha Prasad told The Hindu that the corporation has directed the depot authorities to get the buses refuelled at nearest private fuel outlets. “Neither OMCs nor the fuel outlet operator can refuse entry of our buses and refuelling at the outlets,” Mr. Prasad said, adding that this was the only way to save the corporations as well as travelling public from the onslaught of a fare hike.
However, refuelling at private pumps has its own practical difficulties, including lack of close monitoring on refuelling, Mr. Prasad said. Also, quantity and quality of fuel might vary from pump to pump impacting performance of buses, he said. Since KSRTC operates intra-State and inter-State services, buses are to be refuelled in places other than Bangalore to avoid traffic congestion on city roads.
On the other hand, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has decided to gradually scale down bulk purchase and is looking out for potential outlets from where diesel could be purchased without affecting general public. Its Managing Director Anjum Parvez said he has directed the depots to refuel the buses at night as far as possible.
Asked about any possible bus fare hike, Mr. Parvez said RTCs’ primary concern was to wriggle out of the present crisis. While buying diesel at private outlets, the RTCs not only have to pay the increased Rs. 0.5 for individual consumers, but also have to lose Rs. 0.75 concession that was being offered for bulk purchase, he said. In effect, the actual additional burden on diesel if purchased from private outlets is Rs. 1.25, Mr. Parvez said.
A private outlet operator said RTCs have approached them for dedicated supply from outlets through tankers. “We have declined this offer because of practical difficulties,” he said. Sources in OMCs confirmed that the RTCs have stopped bulk purchase of diesel following the steep price hike. However, the Railways and Defence continue to purchase diesel in bulk, they said. The RTCs had requested OMCs to link a few fuel outlets directly to their depots; the request, however, was not accepted as it would go against the directions of the Central government.
Meanwhile, the Bangalore Traffic Police has asked the BMTC to avoid inconvenience to the general public while refuelling its buses at private outlets. Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M.A. Saleem said he has asked BMTC to get fuel from outlets closer to depots or on the outskirts of the city. “So far, there are no reports on inconvenience to general public,” he said.