Thiruvananthapuram: Cooperatives minister Kadakampally Surendran has promised steps to begin the distribution of KSRTC’s pension arrears from February 20 by availing loans from a consortium of cooperatives.
The minister made this announcement after a meeting of the consortium of primary cooperative banks and the state cooperative bank here on Wednesday.
There are 39,045 pensioners. They have arrears of full pension for three months and a half pension for two months.
They have been asked to open an account with cooperative banks or societies near their banks drawing their pensions. Lead bank, State Cooperative Bank, would deposit the amount including arrears into that account.
As many as 198 primary cooperatives were willing to join the move to mobilise the amount needed for providing the pension.
However, as the money needed in the first phase was only `219 crore, it was decided to restrict the number to 24 in four districts.
An amount of `140 crore was mobilised from 14 primary cooperatives in Kozhikode district, `50 crore from four in Ernakulam, and 30 crores from three in Thiruvananthapuram. The government would pay back the loans at an interest rate of 10 per cent earmarked in the budget. Mr Surendran said that the arrears will be paid to all pensioners before February 28.
Sources, however, hinted the bus owners are likely to go forward with an indefinite bus strike from February 16.
“We demanded hiking the minimum charge to `10, however, it was increased by just `1. Similarly, we wanted the students’ ticket rate to be increased `5. However, the government didn’t even make a one per cent hike in the category. Nearly 60 per cent of commuters are students,” Lawrence Babu, co-ordination committee president and general secretary of Kerala State Private Bus Operators Federation, said.
He charged that the government is attempting to showcase the bus owners in poor light by effecting the nominal hike.
“The operating expenses have increased manifold since the last time the bus fare was hiked in May 2014. The price of diesel went up from `54 then to `70 now. Similar is the case with staff salary, material prices and insurance expense among others. The very existence of the industry is under threat,” said T. Gopinath, state general secretary of the All Kerala Bus Operators Organisation.