Telangana unions leave RTC staff in the lurch; TSRTC requires Rs 6,000 cr to make it viable: Govt

 

Highlights

    • Widening gap of revenue-expenditure; rise in private vehicles dents RTC demand; 11 out of 97 bus depots profitable

Hyderabad: Despite the increased budgetary support to the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) after the formation of Telangana, the revenues-expenditure gap has steeply widened, resulting in an annual loss of Rs 1,200 crore. At a time, when the government is committed and sincerely trying to keep the ailing TSRTC on track, the unions with malicious intent intervened and created hurdles for the revival plan. Moreover, the unions are putting the life of the employees at stake. Unfortunately, it is the opposition parties who are trying to take mileage out of it. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) led government said, “TSRTC employees should realise why the unions discontinued discussions and suddenly announced the strike.” 

Revenues of the TSRTC are Rs 4,882 crore, and the expenditure is Rs 5,811 crore. According to the latest report on the TSRTC, the corporation requires Rs 6,000 crore to keep it back on track, said a top official. Despite budgetary support of over Rs 700 crore, there is no other option but going for raising debt. Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has proposed a three-stage formula comprising of 50 per cent own buses, 30 per cent buses on hire and 20 per cent private stage carriers.

The RTC strike by the employees entered its 14th day on Friday. The daily loss due to strike is estimated to be Rs 12 crore for the TSRTC. The corporation carries about one crore Telanganites, mostly the poor and the middle-class. The number of private vehicles is increasing by the day. People from the upper-middle-class and the rich generally don’t travel by RTC buses. Further, the rising debt component, expenditure, fuel price, etc., are taking a toll on the financial performance, said a senior official at TSRTC.

Funding support from the Telangana government

A top official said, “After the formation of Telangana state, the TSRTC employees received a 67 per cent rise in their salaries. The state government funding support went up 600 per cent. Employees should work hard and be committed to enhancing revenues for the RTC. If they strike during the festive season, the RTC loses revenues. The state government is making alternative measures to provide transport facility to passengers. Now, we’re operating 70 per cent of buses, to avoid any inconvenience to passengers. The state government is in the process of hiring new employees for the RTC. Now, employees of the TSRTC are at the losing end. Employees should realise the hidden agenda of the RTC unions. Why are political parties supporting the strike? Did the Congress and the BJP merge the RTC in their states?. 

The highest budgetary support to the RTC in united Andhra Pradesh was Rs 712 crore in 2013-14 fiscal. In Telangana alone, the TRS government provided Rs792.39 crore budgetary support in the financial year 2018-19. Despite the state government’s support, the mismatch between revenues and expenditure is widening every year. 

TSRTC has 97 bus depots spread over 11 regions and 24 divisions. Only 11 bus depots of the 97 are profitable. The total fleet is 10,460 including 8,360 own buses and 2,100 hired buses. The corporation operates 6,620 buses in rural areas and 3,840 buses in urban areas in 3,692 routes. The average passengers per bus are 956. This means about one crore people travel by the RTC bus every day. The corporation has huge manpower of 49,340 employees. So then why is the TSRTC incurring losses, considering the occupancy ratio is over 70 per cent? The TSRTC should be actually making profits. 

Where’s the problem?

The total debt of TSRTC is Rs 4,709 crore. Outdate buses are 2,600, and 400 more would join the list next year. TSRTC requires 3,000 new buses to meet the growing demand. It needs Rs 1,000 crore to purchase new buses. All put together; the TSRTC requires about Rs 6,000 crore immediately to make it a viable public transport entity. States like MP, Manipur, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh don’t have state road transport corporations. The bus-population ratio for one lakh people is 0.21 in Bihar, 2.49 in Pashchim Bangla, 1.09 in Odisha, as against 29.44 in Telangana. This indicates how much support the Telangana government is extending, observed an official.

Deep in a Cash crunch

The TSRTC so far has not paid salaries for the month of September. It requires Rs 250 crore for paying wages and expenditures. But, as on Friday the TSRTC has Rs 8 crore cash balance, according to official sources. The ongoing strike has further put the RTC in a deep cash crunch. Generally, the state government extends Rs 20 crore every month to the RTC. But considering the pathetic financial situation, the government already released 80 per cent of funds. The looming economic slowdown has also put the state government in a tight situation.

Dasari Sreenivasa Rao

Dasari Sreenivasa Rao

Dasari Sreenivasa Rao is a freelance journalist with 26 years of mainstream media experience in Hyderabad and Dubai. He was Business Editor at The Pioneer and Spl Correspondent at Deccan Chronicle and The Hans India. Earlier, he worked for prestigious media brands including ToI, Indian Express (Bombay), SPG Media and Business Standard in Hyderabad.

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