KOCHI: The loss-making Kerala State Road Transport Corporation's (KSRTC) move to raise money by allowing candidates and political parties to display advertisements on its buses this election campaign seems to have come unstuck. While the aim was to collect nearly Rs 2 crore, KSRTC is yet to get the Election Commission's (EC) approval for the proposal sent a few weeks ago, sources said.
With the scheduled date for the assembly elections -- April 6 — fast approaching, any further delay in getting EC's permission will derail the plan to infuse much-needed funds into the corporation."KSRTC is a sinking vessel. If EC permits advertisements on ordinary buses for electioneering, the corporation can raise nearly Rs 2 crore as we have over 3,000 buses," said a top official with KSRTC, on condition of anonymity.
KSRTC has decided to collect Rs 12,600, excluding GST, for a month for an advertisement space of 104 sq. ft on ordinary buses. Though the corporation has received plenty of publicity proposals from candidates and political parties, the delay in getting the permission have rendered the authorities clueless on the next course of action.
In the 2016 assembly elections, the LDF used the exterior of a passenger train as a medium for political campaigning. The Nagercoil-Mangaluru Ernad Express became the first train to be branded with the LDF slogan in Malayalam ‘LDF Varum, Ellam Sariyakum’ (LDF will come, everything will be alright), along with images of its leaders.
Queried on the matter, KSRTC managing director Biju Prabhakar said: "We are getting enquiries from candidates and political parties for advertisement on our buses. Private buses across the state have already started giving out space for election campaigning. We hope the Election Commission will approve the proposal without much delay."
He said the transport corporation has decided to provide a 10 per cent commission to agents for every advertisement canvassed."Earlier, private agencies enjoyed the advertisement revenue. Now, we have a tie-up with a third party and they will be responsible for printing and pasting the advertisement. Compared to Rs 2,500-Rs 3,000 per advertisement earlier, we now receive nearly Rs 10,000," he said.
KSRTC is also planning to increase the revenue from advertisements by 10 fold and thereby earn nearly Rs 10 crore in a year or two. "We are also willing to provide double-decker buses entirely for advertising. Last month alone, we were able to generate a revenue receipt of Rs 2 crore through advertisements. We are planning to generate Rs 10 crore per month through advertising as KSRTC has huge potential," he said.
State Election Commissioner Teeka Ram Meena was unavailable for comment.