THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The hartal organised by the Dalit organisations on Monday has delivered a body blow to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation that is already reeling under debt. The revenue of the cash-strapped corporation sunk by 50 per cent as it could operate only half of its services owing to disruption of vehicular movement and cordoning off bus depots by the hartal supporters.
KSRTC Managing Director A Hemachandran IPS told Express the drastic dip in daily collection was due to the disruption of mofussil and rural trips. “We had a 50 per cent revenue loss on Monday,” Hemachandran said. “The trips were cancelled mainly in the southern regions of the state as the hartal had impacted that zone the most,” he added.
The average daily collection of KSRTC was Rs 6.5 crore, but on Monday it went down to `3 crore. The hartal, however, feebly affected the northern districts and because of that the corporation’s long-distance trips from those areas were mostly unaffected.
“We felt the maximum impact of hartal in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha. In Thrissur also there was some trouble as indicated by the daily collection from the area. But other northern districts were able to operate most of their services, especially long-distance trips. That has been a real help as the revenue didn’t fall beyond a point,” he said.
Though the hartal witnessed sporadic acts of stone-throwing, there were no large scale violence and physical attacks on the bus employees, Hemchandran added. One employee was injured in stone-pelting and four buses sustained damage. “The damages were limited to the window panes and glasses,” he said.
For the corporation that has been grappling with financial issues, hartals are lethal. “Hartal or not, the employees have to be paid the salary and other day-to-day activities of the corporation have to be bankrolled. When the income dips on hartal days, the impact is catastrophic,” the managing director said.
KSRTC had written to the police seeking protection for the buses operating on hartal days. Hemachandran said he was satisfied with the response of the police as they tried to provide as much as security as possible.