State government awaits Union Ministry’s decision on diesel subsidy for bulk consumers

With the State government yet to take a decision on the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation’s request to concentrate on profitable bus routes and rationalise its operations, the public sector utility is finding it tough to operate its schedules by spending Rs.60.25 for a litre of high-speed diesel.

Though the KSRTC was expecting a ‘favourable’ decision by Wednesday, the State Cabinet is understood to have opted to wait for the outcome of the discussion the Union Petroleum Ministry has kicked off with public sector oil companies on how to avoid State transport undertakings from the tag of ‘bulk consumers.’ The KSRTC was tagged as a bulk carrier on Friday.

Official sources told The Hindu that the Cabinet discussed in detail the KSRTC request and various other options.

No to schedule cut

The government has asked the KSRTC management to wait for the decision of the Petroleum Ministry. It has also been asked not to curtail its schedules and to operate maximum services to avoid hardships to commuters.

The KSRTC management had sought the government’s nod to stop loss-making services and to prioritise services.

As many as 1,650 schedules have been identified as loss-making. Its other requests include a Rs.200-crore assistance and waiver of the 19.8 per cent sales tax paid to the State. The KSRTC has not paid pension to its 37,000 retired employees this month as it could not mobilise Rs.30 crore.

Commuters have started feeling the pinch following the reduction in schedules as the KSRTC purchases diesel only for Rs.2.1 crore daily.

Schedules, collection

As much as 4.3 lakh litres of diesel is needed a day. With the KSRTC having to pay a surplus of Rs.11.53 for a litre of diesel, the quantum has been reduced by 20 per cent.

The KSRTC managed to operate 4,660 schedules on January 19, 4,270 on 20th, 4,600 on 21th, and 4,580 on January 22.

The daily collection has come down from Rs.4.9 crore on January 19 to Rs.4.3 crore on 20th, Rs.4.6 crore on 21th, and Rs.4.4 crore on January 22. The effective schedules are now 5,000 and the rest are ‘paper schedules.’ Figures reveal that the schedules have not been drastically curtailed even after the hike in diesel price, sources said.

An option that has come up before the KSRTC is to fill high-speed diesel from retail outlets and that of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation’s.

Legal issues

Although Rs.10 can be saved a litre, it is not feasible as it will lead to legal and technical issues.

A top KSRTC official said the buses will not be able to fill diesel from the retail outlets of the Civil Supplies Corporation as they cannot enter the outlets with commuters as it is against the rules.

The majority of KSRTC buses enter the depot between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. after service.

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