MSRTC officials said these were difficult times for all transporters, and they were battling their way out. File pic/Satej Shinde
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) with a fleet of 18,000 buses, is facing a crisis on multiple fronts. Unable to pay for diesel, unions have alleged it is asking its drivers and conductors on duty in buses cancelled due to this, to take leave. Even as thousands of Ganpati specials have been lined up, the transporter has begun facing a serious money crunch, with salary delays for the past few months. Trade unions are also raising concerns about the slow staff vaccination.
"Salaries have been delayed for some months now. There is always a question of when the next salary will arrive. There is no money for diesel to run buses and when buses are cancelled due to this, the staff is asked to take leave. It is a crisis," Shrirang Barge, general secretary of Maharashtra ST Karmachari Congress, said.
"Another area of concern is the vaccination of staff. Of the 97,000 staff members, about 55,516 have been vaccinated, which is just about 50 per cent. Now the process has further slowed down as at the local level many a times, the depot managers do not adjust leaves required for vaccination. In districts like Jalna, Latur, Amravati, Buldhana and Wardha, the progress has been dismal with only 20 per cent of MSRTC staff having been vaccinated," Barge said.
Amid all this, the MSRTC has planned to run 2,200 additional buses from Mumbai to Konkan for the Ganesh festival. The return journeys will commence from September 14 to September 20.
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As the lockdown led to losses and virtual bankruptcy, the MSRTC bosses led by Maharashtra transport minister and MSRTC chairman Anil Parab last year decided to cut down costs and listed several measures to make its operations across the state viable.
MSRTC officials said that these were difficult times for all transporters, and they were battling their way out.
"A long-term plan has been chalked to bail out the corporation, including procuring buses on lease, converting a few into Liquified Natural Gas fuel (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and rebuilding a few old buses into lorries to ferry cargo to save costs and bring in revenue," Parab said.
About the allegations of unions that staff is being asked to go on leave due to cancellation of services following diesel shortage, the administration has asked bus depots to send a list of such instances if any, and sought the factual position. On vaccination, he said that the MRSTC staff has been getting vaccinated as per availability and that they would be able to cover the entire staff soon.
No. of vaccinated MSRTC staff
Total staff with MSRTC