Defending the recent BMTC and KSRTC bus fare hikes, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday said ‘it was due for long.’
After holding a review meeting on combating drought in the state, Siddaramaiah said, “The BMTC was sustaining heavy loss and despite the recent hike in its fares it is still struggling to come out of the red.”
Maintaining that the government has huge financial commitments to core sectors, including `15,000 crore for irrigation and `4,500 crore towards rice subsidy, he said it cannot afford to burden the state exchequer further.
He said the proposal to hike bus fares was on the cards well before the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, and admitted that the government was waiting for elections to get over to make the announcement. Referring to the high inflation, the chief minister called it ‘a national phenomena’ and not just restricted to the state. Slamming the BJP for protesting the KIAL toll hike, Siddaramaiah revealed that it was the BJP regime that gave permission to hike it. He had spoken to Union Surface Minister Oscar Fernandes and appealed to him to review it, Siddaramaiah said. As per information available with him, residents living in a radius of 40 km around the toll plaza had to pay a monthly fee of `220 and those living in the range of 5 km will get free passes. He countered the BJP criticism on load-shedding by saying that its regime was responsible for the condition. “We are ready for an open debate with BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje,” he said.