Lack of concrete efforts from the LDF government has added to the woes of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which is already facing the worst financial crisis since its formation in 1965.
Despite its tall election promises to protect the ailing corporation, the government did not take any step, except replacing the managing director and asking an IIM professor, who already submitted a report on revamping KSRTC, to submit a similar report again. Even when KSRTC employees protested in the state demanding salaries, Transport Minister A K Saseendran, instead of providing any financial help, appointed MG Rajamanickam as the new KSRTC CMD, a post that saw inglorious exits of many bright officers over lack of proper support system.
“The government wants to interfere in KSRTC’s affairs like appointments, fare, concessions and schedule, but wants the MD to shoulder all main responsibilities,” said T P Senkumar, who was KSRTC CMD from 2006 to 2010.
He blamed successive governments since 1964 for contributing to troubles in KSRTC.
Further, experts in transport sector said KSRTC was facing a natural death, unless a prudent management system was put in place. “The debt burden of around `2000 crore has confined the ailing state carrier from improving its position,” they said. Till a decade ago, KSRTC’s loans were just a few crores. But it changed over the years. The latest restructuring of loans to a consortium of banks was to the tune of `1200 crore. “We cannot run the corporation on loans. Instead, the focus should be on improving revenue. If we get a moratorium from banks for at least six months, we can work on steadying the revenue,” said S D Sreenivasan, a former KSRTC superintendent, who earned a good service entry for better financial management.
Agreeing, Senkumar said the period should be extended to two years with government support to revive the corporation’s finances.
At present, KSRTC has mortgaged 63 out of its 93 depots to meet its expenses.
As per deal, repayment is done with daily collections from operations.
Still, KSRTC has better earnings per bus, above `10,000, despite being in heavy debt to service and overhead cost.
“Hence, a tighter financial control, coupled with proper operation of buses can bounce back its revenue,” said Sreenivasan.