Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

SRTC: A woeful tale of govt neglect, forlorn administrative mindset

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 16, 2009

Nagender Jamwal
JAMMU, June 15: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s announcement of plying additional State Road Transport Corporation buses on the accident prone routes of erstwhile District Doda does not augur well with the condition of the corporation which besides being a financial liability is nearing virtual closure.
Alongside the depleting fleet of vehicles, employees of the corporation are
grieved over the so called voluntary retirement scheme aimed at reducing the
financial losses and making efforts for rejuvenating the corporation. Corporation has 4400 employees on its rolls with 2700 belonging to Kashmir and Leh regions of the state while the remaining 1700 employees are from Jammu region.
Official sources said that despite mounting losses with each passing day, state
government is yet to take a decision with regard to improving the health of the
corporation. From Abdullah convoy to Government Transport Undertaking’ (GTU) and then to State Road Transport Corporation, it has undergone a sea change in its nomenclature but has miserably failed to live upto the expectations of the
passengers. Interestingly, the corporation had at one point of time 1600
vehicles and the same should have increased over the years.
But bureaucratic inefficiency coupled with political mismanagement ruined the
corporation completely. Ask the corporation employees and they would tell you
that government maintained a silent policy of encouraging the private vehicles
owners which resulted in them taking over all the major routes of the state.
The passengers preferred private vehicles over the government run SRTC since the private owners improved their services with each passing day while the
corporation could bring any change in its buses. The number kept on reducing and
presently, the corporation is maintaining a fleet of 743 vehicles of which 550
are on roads while the rest are in the workshops. Drivers of these vehicles
complain that vehicles are in extremely bad condition and the drivers find it
difficult to drive these vehicles.
Officials said that a good number of SRTC vehicles have become redundant and
despite reminding the state government, it has kept mum on this issue. “Being
old, the vehicles are a source of pollution which is a great threat to our
environment. We have been demanding new vehicles in place of old and leftover
vehicles,” added a president of drivers association.
One of the drivers said that these vehicles are not comfortable like private
vehicles. “Government has shown reluctance even in repairing these vehicles.
Despite our repeated requests, repair mechanism is a complete failure,” added
the driver.
President of SRTC Workers Association for Jammu province Ashok Mehra affirmed
the depleted condition of the buses of SRTC. He said that revival is possible
but it would take a courageous leader who could take decisions independently
with regard to bringing this corporation back to life. “Around 77 employees have availed Voluntary Retirement Scheme and 88 others applied for this scheme around a month ago but govt is yet to respond,” added Mehra. He stressed that 237 others have availed Golden Hand Shake (GHS) scheme.
Other drivers said that they are being made to beg for their salary from the
state government. “We are yet to get our salary of the last two months and it is
difficult for our employees to survive. Our G.P fund has not been deposited from
1999 which speaks in volumes about the interest of state government in keeping
this corporation working,” added the association’s general secretary, Paramjeet
Singh. He added that state government snatched their bus stand in the year 1987 and gave it to JDA. “We do not have any bus stand for parking our vehicles,” added Singh. He maintained that an announcement was made with regard to buying 773 new vehicles but the assurance is yet to see light of the day.
“Bus stand’s main gate has been captured by private vehicle owners who forcibly
take customers to their vehicles. Besides, passengers also prefer better and
comfortable seating arrangement. They use rude languages and even manhandle our workers,” added Singh. He maintained that drivers of SRTC have not been insured by state government and work at their own risk.
Some other drivers said that at times of strike and war, it is the SRTC drivers
who work. “We ply vehicles even during strikes and on a few occasions, the SRTC
employees have suffered grievous injuries but it all goes unnoticed,” said an
olddriver.

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