Dual pricing and bulk consumer tag deepening its crisis

Even as the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has started looking towards the retail outlets of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation to source high-speed diesel (HSD), the management is to seek legal remedies to take the bulk consumer tag off the beleaguered corporation.

The move comes in the wake of the Madras High Court on Thursday restraining the Petroleum Ministry and oil companies from charging State transport undertakings a higher price for diesel. The court gave the interim order till April 12 on a petition filed by Tamil Nadu government. Official sources told The Hindu that the KSRTC management is to approach the High Court on Monday against the bulk consumer tag and the dual pricing policy imposed from January 18.

The corporation is going ahead with a three-pronged strategy that has been given the nod by the government to overcome the crisis of having to pay more for the HSD. The corporation has started sourcing the HSD for the buses in the Central bus station at Thampanoor, City and Vikas Bhavan depots from Supplyco outlets at Statue, Althara near the police headquarters and from the outlet operated directly by the HP near Kowdiar on an experimental basis. With this, the KSRTC has to pay only Rs.50.86 a litre of HSD compared to Rs.63.32 it was paying on account of the dual pricing policy. The corporation needs 4.3 lakh litres of HSD on an average and sourcing the diesel from the retail outlets can bring down the daily fuel bill by Rs.52 lakh.

The corporation is sourcing the HSD from these outlets as the oil companies has refused to supply it to the pumps in the bus depots across the State. HSD is being filled into the buses only between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. using the service of additional drivers, pump operators and security guards. A top official of the KSRTC said this is incurring additional expense for the loss-making corporation.

The arrival of the buses and the entry into the retail outlets is causing traffic snarls and inconvenience to the other motorists. The corporation has deputed senior officials to supervise the arrangements. The money towards the cost of the diesel is transferred to the retail outlets through banks before noon the next day with strict monitoring.

The corporation has also decided to source HSD for the buses under its fleet in Kollam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam from the Supplyco outlets from Monday as it cannot afford to paying higher price, the official said. Sourcing HSD directly will help the KSRTC save Rs.1 per litre as it does not have to pay dealer commission.