“Situation does not warrant a hike in bus fares”
Reiterates that bus operators’ strike stage-managed
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has asked the State government to disclose the norms to be adopted for increasing bus fares in the State.
Addressing a press conference here on Friday, Mr. Chandy said the move to sanction a hike had no basis as the situation did not warrant it. It was in this background that he had stated that the three-day bus operators’ strike was “stage managed” to create conditions for a hike.
The strike had been staged with the “tacit approval” of the State government. The bus fare had been hiked when he was Chief Minister, but this was done on the basis of clear norms recommended by a committee.
Usually, the base fare hike was pegged to the increase in the prices of petrol and diesel. In June 2006, the price of petrol was Rs.50.34 a litre and that of diesel was Rs.35.94 a litre.
At present, petrol costs Rs.47.25 a litre and diesel Rs.36.14 a litre. Since there has not been much shift in the price of diesel, the onus was on the State government to explain the situation, he said.
To substantiate his charge of foul play, Mr. Chandy said the State government did not budge till the High Court strongly intervened in the matter and reacted to the strike.
The High Court directive to seek its approval before implementing the new fares had come as a consolation to the harried people.
He alleged that the State government had increased water tariff, but its attempt to hike power charges had been blocked by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
With regard to the demand for abolishing student fare concession, Mr. Chandy said he was against denying or abolishing the concession, but wanted the government to examine whether the concession was being misused.
The decision to retain student concession at old rates had always been a matter of consensus, even though a later agreement had stipulated that the concession should be 25 per cent, he said.
Mr. Chandy also noted that Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which had also submitted a note for fare hike, had not put any pressure on the State government in the present context.