Thiruvananthapuram: The private bus operators called off their five-day-old strike on Tuesday following the tough stand taken by the government and a split in their ranks. The bus owners took the decision after a meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who rejected their demands which included raising the minimum fare from Rs 8 to Rs 10 and the students' fare from Re 1 to Rs 5. Small-time bus owners had already decided to withdraw the strike, but big operators were continuing with it. The bus operators' leaders claimed that the chief minister had promised to consider their legitimate demands, including a relook into the concession fare.
However, the government warned the bus operators and issued a show-cause notice for violating the stipulation in the permit against causing hardship to commuters. Cracks had also developed in the coordination committee of various bus owners associations as some wanted to end the strike. A section of operators claimed that they had ousted coordination committee chairman Lawrence Babu. However, Mr Babu told Deccan Chronicle that the president and secretary of an obscure union which had only a few members could not oust him. Both of them, Mr M.K. Baburaj and Mr Shihabudeen, were ousted from the committee, Mr Babu said.
Pension disbursal resumes
The relaunch of the KSRTC pension disbursal after six months of wait and protest here on Tuesday was mired in controversy with minister for co-operation Kadakampally Surendran stating that suicide by pensioners had happened even during the UDF government's tenure. As many as 26 pensioners had committed suicide then, he said and alleged that there was a move to sabotage the pension distribution. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the state-level pension distribution through cooperative banks at the KSRTC terminal here where Mr Kadakampally Surendran delivered the main speech.
Mr Pinarayi Vijayan dismissed the speculation that cooperative societies will collapse by giving loans to the KSRTC. Mr Vijayan said that the cooperative banks were giving loans as per banking norms. "Cooperative societies have survived the note ban. The sector will gain strength after the formation of Kerala Bank," he said. UDF leaders, including Mr V.S. Sivakumar MLA, and office-bearers of service organisations boycotted the meeting saying that it was being turned into a spectacle.
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala criticised the event and said the government should have at least passed a condolence resolution over the suicide of the pensioners before organising such a function. There was confusion whether the pensioners would have to open accounts and retain a minimum balance of Rs 500. However, some cooperative banks in the consortium have agreed to do away with minimum balance or have a minimum balance of only Rs 100. Some banks also have agreed to provide pensions without opening an account. The pension distribution would be completed on February 28. The delay is due to the formalities required for bed-ridden pensioners.
KSRTC windfall hits a record Rs 8.5 crore on day 4
The five-day strike called by the private bus owners has turned out to be blessing in disguise for the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). The total collection during the first four days of the strike stood at Rs 30 crore. On Monday, KSRTC's collection stood at an all-time high of Rs 8.5 crore. This is substantially higher than the daily average collection Rs 6 crore. On the second day of strike on Saturday, the corporation achieved a daily collection of Rs 7.85 crore.
With this, the total collection collection for February stood at Rs 111.20 crore. If the revenue of KURTC, which operated AC and non-AC buses under the JNNURM scheme, is also calculated, the total revenue colletions stood at Rs 120.20 crore. The Ernakulam zone topped the revenue collection among the five zones recording a revenue collection of Rs 2.11 crore on Monday. “Thiru-Kochi services alone bagged an all time high of Rs 4.5 lakh while the Ernakulam depot alone got Rs 20 lakh daily collection on Monday. We thanks all staff for their sincere efforts in achieving the record collection figures,” said S.K. Suresh Kumar, Ernakulam Zonal officer.