Why not close down heavy loss making Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Organisation (SRTC)?
SRTC has of lat become a white horse with losses touching Rs 3031.61 lakhs by March 2015.Though this is 1368.52 lakhs lesser than the loss suffered by SRTCs in the year 2013-14, but it is significant since it clearly reflects faulty planning and lack of use of mind by the officers who are and were in- charge of the transport department.
They all knew that SRTC was incurring heavy losses yet they advised the government to go-ahead both with recruiting drivers and buying new buses. Even some buses were started on the routes where none existed earlier. The planners did not think for a minute about the need for finding a way out for the employees working in SRTC and then either closing down the corporation or taking innovative steps to turn this unit into a profit making venture.
Ironically, one of the transport secretaries was awarded for meritorious services while the fact is it was he who had strongly objected to closing down the corporation and advised the state government to strengthen the corporation by pumping in more money and appointing more people. His advice was immediately accepted for its suited the then political dispensation who did both the things and the results are there to see.
SRTC’s woes can be understood from the fact that the state government employed new drivers yet its revenue slumped from Rs 5784.89 lakhs in 2013-14 to Rs 5341 lakhs in 2014-15. Not only the revenue slumped but the total money spent on SRTC increased from Rs 8372.61 lakhs in 2013-14 to Rs 10183.98 lakhs in the year 2014-15. The policy makers and advocates of SRTC must explain how to bridge this huge gap of Rs 1811.28 lakhs.
This huge amount is incurred on keeping SRTC operational. Those making policies aimed at pleasing their political masters need to explain why the buses which are 56-64 seat buses are operational when they just carry on an average 20 persons per day. They further need to explain the need for engaging fresh drivers when the staff’s strength is already 1720.
These makers of transport policy boost of SRTC having a fleet of 610 buses but do not put the complete picture. Of 610 buses, only 287 are operational, leaving 53 percent of the fleet rusting in various SRTC yards of the state. More shocking is the fact that 56 percent buses being of SRTC are over- aged.
Not only this, the buses which the SRTC buys do not survive beyond ten years. They become virtually defunct and cannot be put to any use yet the Darbar moves in these over-aged buses. These SRTC buses earn revenue of Rs 2.8 per kilometer but lose this due to high cost of running which is around Rs 5. Hence, SRTC loses Rs 2.2 on every kilometer that it travels across the state.