In rain-hit Kerala, Onam bonus adds to KSRTC’s revenue woes

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Reports suggested that KSRTC’s revenue was steadily increasing this year until the floods wreaked havoc in the state (iStock File)

Incessant rainfall and floods that hit Kerala in the first week of August has resulted in a severe financial crunch for the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), and the bonus given during the Onam festival has become an additional burden for the agency.

While damaged roads and limited availability of transportation services have added to the woes of the flood victims, the state transport corporation too has suffered a sharp decline in revenue collection.

According to KSRTC, revenue collection was worst affected in Wayanad, Malappuram, Alappuzha, Idukki and Kozhikode districts.

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“We used to earn an average monthly revenue of ₹200 crore. But due to the rainfall this year, it has come down and we are facing a burden,” said KSRTC’s managing director MP Dinesh.

As per financial data provided by the KSRTC, it was revealed that the transport corporation’s average daily revenue collection had fallen to ₹5 crore this year, as compared to its usual ₹6.3 crore.

On May 2019, KSRTC had earned a record revenue of ₹200.91 crore. In fact, reports suggested that the corporation’s revenue was steadily increasing this year until the floods wreaked havoc in the state.

₹10 crore loss in August

KSRTC has recorded a loss of around ₹10 crore in the month of August, said its executive director of operation PM Sharaf Muhammad, while highlighting the difficulties the transportation sector faces during rainfall.

“We have around 6,017 vehicles in Kerala and transportation has been a difficult task during the rains. Revenue for the month of August has been heavily hit as we incurred a loss of around Rs 10 to Rs 12 crore in this one month,” said Muhammad.

Further, officials said that in this time of financial crunch, the bonus given as part of Onam celebrations, has added to the woes of the KSRTC. The corporation is struggling to pay bonus to its employees this year, they said.

“We need around ₹33.5 crore for the giving Onam bonus and allowances. However, our collections are already affected badly due to the rains,” said an official from KSRTC’s finance department. “We had sought a ₹50 crore assistance from the government but received only ₹16 crore.”

After the flood last year, the additional festive expenses were not a matter of concern since the entire state had boycotted Onam celebrations.

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During the deluge this year, the KSRTC came to the relief of the commuters, while other transport services, including those of flights, trains and cabs, were heavily disrupted. It operated services to and from disaster-hit regions, ensuring smooth transportation of relief materials.

Adding to the agency’s distress, a large number of KSRTC buses are left non-functional in the state. As per reports, around 442 fast passenger buses have been abandoned at various depots in and around Kerala.

Previously, an order was passed to use these fast buses, which were older than five years, as ordinary ones. However, their services were restricted considering the capability to carry out long-distance services.

The corporation also reported a further loss of ₹40 crore due to non-functioning of these buses. And, in the view of the ongoing financial crunch, the KSRTC has increased the life span of these buses to seven years.