Chennai: The bus fare increase in Tamil Nadu will not be rolled back, state transport minister M.R.Vijayabhaskar said on Saturday, arguing that the hike, the first in six years, was forced upon the government due to the financial crisis in the state transport corporations.
Still, the fares were the cheapest among all the southern states even after this hike, he told reporters at his native Karur.
The steep 20-54 per cent fare hike announced late Friday evening has drawn all-round flak from the political parties and triggered protest demonstrations by the public at several places across the state. DMK working president M. K. Stalin led the opposition attack accusing the government of being ‘sadistic’ and delivering a ‘thunderbolt’ to seriously hurt the common man.
He said the DMK would hold protest demonstrations at all the district headquarters on January 27.
In a statement early Saturday, Stalin accused the government of being a 'sadist' imposing overnight the steep hike amounting to Rs 3,600 crore a year upon the people who are already burdened by multiple factors. The 'thunderbolt' of hike was simply unacceptable.
“I strongly condemn the AIADMK government for imposing this heavy burden on the people, whose buying power has already dropped,” said Stalin, who is the Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly.
The DMK leader alleged that the government announced the fare hike only to hide its own “administrative inefficiency”; also, it raised a question whether the move was aimed at helping the private bus operators. Also, why was the government not contemplating steps to increase its revenue from non-fare modes like operating courier services, running motels and advertisements on buses, Stalin asked.
PMK chief Dr S. Ramadoss has announced agitations in all the district headquarters on January 25 to demand the hike rollback. “The government has burdened the people with this fare hike while giving the extremely poor MLAs a hundred per cent salary rise”, he said in a statement.
CPI(M) State Secretary G Ramakrishnan said the party would stage dharnas and hold protest demonstrations across Tamil Nadu on January 22 against the bus fare hike. Seeking an immediate rollback, he said the government's announcement of forming a committee to look at restructuring the fare structure in future was 'a big betrayal' of the people.
DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi alleged that corruption and inefficiency in managing the bus transport sector had led to fare increase and demanded that it be withdrawn.
The hike was “a clear indication” that the government was not functioning properly, particularly in the transport sector, she told reporters at Coimbatore airport.
She recalled that the transport workers' demands were solved through negotiations during DMK rule and there was no increase in bus fares then.
While announcing the fare hike, the government had said its transport corporations incurred a recurring loss of `20,488 crore. Also, the government had to provide subsidy of `12,059.17 crore over the last seven years to these corporations to help them tackle their funds crunch, it said. It also announced a fund for accident compensation and prevention, besides a panel to go into restructuring of fares in future.
Effective Saturday, the fare has been hiked for buses across categories viz moffusil, city, ordinary, express, deluxe, bypass-non-stop, ultra deluxe, airconditioned and Volvo modes, an official release said.
While the minimum hike is in moffusil ordinary category, where the fare of Rs 5 for 10 km would now be Rs 6 (20 per cent hike), the highest is in Volvo buses, where the fare of Rs 33 for 30 km will now go up to Rs 51 (54.54 per cent hike)....