The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will have to look at retail outlets for diesel as the plan to lease its 67 fuel pumps to the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) to get subsidised fuel will take time. With the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and the Hindustan Petroleum (HP) billing the KSRTC Rs.71.25 a litre of diesel from Tuesday night, a Cabinet meeting on Friday will take a decision in this regard to keep the State transport utility afloat. The KSRTC now has 5,600 schedules. Once approval is given to the corporation to fill diesel for its 6,129 buses from retail outlets, fuel will be available to it at Rs.54.91 a litre.

The proposal to grant retail licence to Supplyco to operate the outlets within the depots was supported by representatives of the oil companies at a meeting convened by the Chief Minister on Wednesday to source subsidised diesel for the KSRTC. The retail licence has to be granted by the Union government and the other licences will have to be procured by Supplyco from local bodies.

It was pointed out that the procedure would be time consuming and till then, the loss-making utility would not be able to purchase diesel at a higher price. Of the 67 pumps in KSRTC depots, four are not working. The KSRTC has 90 depots in the State. Modalities like recruitment of pump operators once Supplyco takes over will have to be worked out. The redeployment of the existing pump operators of the KSRTC will also have to be worked out.

Purchasing diesel at non-subsidised rate would set back the KSRTC by over Rs.22 crore a month. The revenue-expenditure deficit has touched Rs.90 crore and a fare hike has been ruled out. The KSRTC needs 4.2 lakh litres of diesel a day.

The two oil companies, IOC and HP, have given a credit of Rs. 11 crore to the KSRTC. Sources said the corporation has maintaining the credit limit even at the time of the worst crisis in its history and operated 5,066 buses on Thursday.