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Trim drive in transport units

The Mamata Banerjee government is aiming to cut the flab in ailing state transport corporations.

The five transport corporations would be asked to draw up a list of employees for early retirement and find ways of generating more revenue.

Government sources said the decision would be conveyed to the chairpersons, managing directors and trade union representatives of the transport corporations when chief minister Mamata Banerjee meets them on February 9.

“The corporations will be told to look for ways to generate revenue to stay solvent. The government can neither help them find ways to boost income nor indefinitely go on paying crores as subsidy, given the fiscal burden,” transport minister Madan Mitra told Metro.

According to him, the state government loses Rs 600 crore annually in providing subsidy to the ailing transport corporations. He hinted that the subsidies might be discontinued.

Mitra’s predecessor, Subrata Bakshi, had sought detailed reports on the number of employees, income-expenditure ratio and the number and condition of buses of the state-owned corporations as part of a stock-taking exercise.

“The reports revealed a number of fake employees, whose names feature on the payrolls but who have retired or quit years ago and yet continue to draw salary. Several other loopholes have come to light,” said a senior transport department official.

The reports also indicated that many employees regularly stayed away from work, citing illness. “We will lay stress on reducing the unfit and redundant workforce. Medically unfit employees have to undergo a test conducted by a medical board.”

Officials said transport corporations often blame poor revenue on the condition of the fleet. The manufacturing companies will now be responsible for ensuring that the buses remain roadworthy.