Tamil Nadu government yet to hike bus fares

TN pays no heed to high court suggestion.

Chennai: Nearly a month after the Madras high court recommended to increase bus fares in 8 transport corporations, the state government has been caught in a catch 22 situation with growing dismay on government’s inaction on major issues on one side and frequent strikes of transport employees on the other. The high court bench of Justice S. Manikumar and Justice M. Govindaraj, in its judgment on November 24, recommended the government to hike the bus fares and emphasised the hike is ‘inevitable’. “Present bus fare is inadequate to meet the operational cost. With the existing funds and resources, maintenance cost and debts, revising bus fare, appears to be inevitable, though it may cause inconvenience,” the high court ruling stated.

Although, the state transport corporations facing a loss to the tune of Rs 9 crore every day, the state government seems to be not heeding the court’s suggestion. According to a senior official of transport department, the government had not taken any steps to hike the bus fare, which is very low when compared to other states. “We are trying to persuade the government to hike the bus fare, but they remain unyielding as the administrative decision has become a political decision,” the senior official said.

The official also pointed out that Tamil Nadu had revised bus fares, only twice since 2001, while states like Andhra Pradesh and Kerala had revised the fares eight times since 2001. “Karnataka has revised the fare for 16 times from the year 2000 to 2015. We are collection 42 paise for a kilometre, whereas Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are collecting more than 60 paise,” the official added.

The high court suggestion came in the background of employees belonging to 8 transport corporations staged strikes and agitations demanding payment their benefits worth nearly Rs 7500 crore. “Increasing bus fare is one of the many solutions to minimise the loss. Curbing corruption and providing better services to the people is utmost important and they will definitely help,” K. Natarajan, Treasurer, Labour Progressive Federation, said.

However, the top brass officials attached to the transport department expressed optimism and said that increasing bus fares would decrease the burden borne by the employees gradually, if not immediately. “A hike in fares will help the corporations to stabilise the losses and eventually help in settling employees’ dues on an instalment basis,” the official added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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