Minister for Transport Aryadan Mohammed has stressed the need to chalk out long-term measures to enable the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) face fresh challenges brought about by increased expenditure on fuel.

Addressing delegates at the 39th State conference of the KSRT Employees Association (KSRTEA) here on Monday, Mr. Mohammed said the ‘dual pricing’ of diesel, with lower rates at retail outlets and higher rates for bulk users, had created an unprecedented situation. However, this gap would be narrowed down during the next one year with monthly hike in fuel prices, he said.

“As such. we have to chalk out long-term measures to face the challenges,” the Minister said.

He said refuelling from retail outlets posed certain practical problems at the execution level. Since the State had narrow and busy roads, refuelling by the nearly 3,000-odd KSRTC buses could result in major traffic jams. Moreover, under the Motor Vehicle Act, buses were not allowed to refuel with passengers on board, he said. The Minister said the CNG option has been kept in abeyance. While the Union government had promised Rs.100 crore for the changeover from diesel to CNG, the alternative was found wanting in the long term, he said. “We have to import LNG and then convert it into CNG. This means the product was not protected against further hike in prices, though currently it was available at a lower cost,” Mr Mohammed said.

According to him, even the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), which had gone in for CNG, was having second thoughts.

He said the State was facing an economic crisis, as it was among those that had the highest revenue deficit coupled with the highest per capita debt. “However, blaming the KSRTC as one of the causes for the financial problems was not correct, he said.

K G. Mohanlal, chairman and managing director, KSRTC, in his address said the successful implementation of disbursal of salary through banks proved that the employees of the Corporation were technology savvy and would be able to absorb new technology in future, which would be an essential component in the future programmes of the RTC.

Earlier, inaugurating the conference, Tapan Sen, general secretary, CITU, warned against bringing in privatisation to lift the loss-making public sector institutions out of the red.

Institutions that function for the common good of the people cannot always make profits, he said. Mr. Sen called for a review of the petroleum pricing policy and asked the authorities to stop providing subsidised fuel for mobile phone companies to operate their mobile towers.

The Hindu