Karnataka RTCs eye funds available with various departments

They want to use the money to provide transport passes for students, labourers, and garment workers

Cash-strapped road transport corporations (RTCs) are eyeing the funds available with different departments such as Social Welfare, Public Instruction, and Labour to provide subsidised transport services, especially to students, garment workers, and labourers.

For more than a year since the start of the pandemic, the four RTCs have been relying on the State for funds to pay staff their salaries. To date, the government has provided close to ₹2,500 crore.

Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) chairman M. Chandrappa told The Hindu that a presentation on using the funds available with different departments has been made to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. “Every year, RTCs issue lakhs of students passes. If we utilise funds available under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, we can lessen the burden on the State government as it also contributes a partial amount. Similarly, funds are also available with the Labour Department. There are around 20 lakh registered construction workers. If we get funds from the department, it will benefit lakhs of labourers,” he said.

He added that there is scope to use the money available with various departments. “The financial condition of RTCs has deteriorated since COVID-19 and it is posing an existential challenge. We have to save institutions that have a legacy at any cost. But at the same time, we do not want to burden the State government. Using the funds available with departments to issue student bus passes as well as passes for construction labourers and employees in the garment sector will help in a big way,” he added.

Together, the four RTCs issue 20 lakh passes annually to students. The cost involved in issuing subsidised passes is ₹2,500 crore. RTCs and students bear 25% of the cost each, while the remaining 50% is borne by the government.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the funds allocated for student passes have been used to pay salaries. “There is a proposal to raise funds from other sources too. In the coming days, the Chief Minister will hold discussions with the departments concerned,” a senior official of the KSRTC said.

Fuel expenses

The RTCs are also asking the State government to share fuel expenses, along the lines of what Tamil Nadu has adopted. “As per our information, the Tamil Nadu government supports up to ₹30 per litre of diesel,” said the senior KSRTC official.

The rise in fuel price over the past year has hit RTCs badly, with the price of diesel per litre crossing ₹90. “The corporations are not in a position to meet the operational expenses. We will also request the State government to support us in the purchase of fuel,” the official said.

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