The report on APSRTC merger had recommended three alternatives — liquidation, merger and payment of wages through grants.

Striking RTC workers stage a street play near the Jubilee bus station in Secunderabad on Tuesday

HYDERABAD: If the Telangana government indeed decides to consider the demand for a merger with the TSRTC, it could take a leaf out of its neighbour’s book, as Andhra Pradesh had recently initiated the process of merging APSRTC with the State government. TNIE accessed the ‘Report of the Committee on the merger of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) with the Government of Andhra Pradesh’, which laid the basis for this merger, and found that many of the recommendations made in the report can well be applied to the Telangana context.

The report had recommended three alternatives — liquidation, merger and payment of wages through grants. It also suggests some non-negotiable measures the government must urgently take to pull the corporation out of the quagmire of losses.

The committee was formed in June 2019, under the chairmanship of C Anjaneya Reddy, former APSRTC chairman and retired IPS officer. It noted that for a merger, the government can constitute a Public Transport Department to take over the corporation.

With this, the salaries of the RTC employees can be made regular and on par with other government officials, giving the workers a sense of financial security. Just like TSRTC, the sum saved from gratuity and PF of the employees were used up by the APSRTC previously to meet its liabilities.

Meanwhile, the committee considered the option of liquidation rather unfavourable, as several permissions were required from various ministries under the Central government to go through with it, making the process a lengthy one. There was also be a need to resolve APSRTC’s ‘property issues’ with TSRTC, which could take months, found the committee.

The third alternative as stated in the report is the ‘payment of wages in the form of grant-in-aid’. The idea is that since the corporation can’t make profits on its own, the wages are to be given by the government in the form of grants year after year. This option comes with the recommendation of changing the fleet from diesel to e-buses to reduce fuel costs, which has been a major expense factor.

However, the report also suggested the State to urgently address the issues of losses by setting up a ‘Bus Fare Regulatory Commission’ for APSRTC. It noted that the bus fares were revised four years ago in October 2015, when the price of diesel was Rs 49 per litre. While the fares remained the same, the price of diesel increased to Rs 71 per litre. This was costing RTC an extra Rs 660 crore per annum.

Another issue that the report called urgent attention to was the need to reduce Motor Vehicle (MV) Tax. The report recommended a  reduction of tax for district and city fleet from 7 per cent and 5 per cent respectively to 1 per cent. It also stated that 77 per cent of the APSRTC’s expenditure was on fuel and wages, both of which are imperative. So the government must give grants to the corporation to repay all its previous loans, the report said.

Courtesy The Indian Express