Double trouble for TSRTC

Hyderabad: The beleaguered TSRTC, literally down to its last penny and crippled further by the workers’ 33-day-old strike, suffered a double whammy on Wednesday when the High Court ordered the corporation to pay Rs 200 crore immediately to the RTC Workers Credit Cooperative Society and the State Road Transport authorities served notice for payment of Rs 452.85 crore towards tax dues.

The development comes even as Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s deadline for RTC workers to resume work ended on Tuesday midnight, with the RTC JAC prevailing upon them not to give heed to the government offer.

It is anyone’s guess as to how the corporation’s management would meet the unexpected demands for payment given the fact that it is not even in a position to pay the salaries to its employees.

While Justice Rajshekhar Reddy, dealing with a case pertaining to the RTC’s utilization of CCS funds, passed the orders for payment of Rs 200 crore to the cooperative society, State Transport Authority Secretary Mamata Prasad also served a notice on the RTC to cough up Rs 452.86 crore Transport Tax dues. The two payments amounting to Rs 652.86 crore are to be made immediately, when the corporation’s coffers are virtually empty!

Additional trouble

What is also disturbing is the fact that the opposition parties in the State, particularly the BJP, are seeking to turn the strike into a political turf war to score brownie points, without even acknowledging that the fate of 49,000-odd workers hangs in balance. State BJP president K Laxman’s declaration that the party would no longer just extend support to the strike but would also actively participate in the agitation programmes spoke volumes of its intentions, particularly since he has made it abundantly clear on several occasions that his party was not opposed to privatization.

JAC convenor E Ashwathama Reddy, after meeting the BJP leader in the morning, sought Central intervention with the misplaced argument that the State government was not interested in resolving their issues. The developments, coming in the backdrop of the corporation’s mounting debts (It has existing debts of Rs 5,000 crore) amid annual losses pegged at Rs 1,200 crore, does not augur well for the TSRTC. The Chief Minister had categorically stated that nobody can save the RTC. “In my view, it is a gone case. The solution to ending the strike is to end the RTC,” he had said at a press conference.

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