Guwahati, Sept. 20: The state-owned Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) has suffered huge losses, amounting to Rs 6-7 lakh per day, because of the BTAD violence as the operation of about 200 long-distance buses to various places in lower Assam districts had to be suspended in the past three months.
Sources told The Telegraph that though the situation has slightly improved, the ASTC is still behind in earning revenue as it used to do before the violence started in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Dhubri districts.
In 2010, Dispur implemented the Chief Minister’s Rural Connectivity Special Scheme, under which the government introduced a fleet of 200 luxury buses, exclusively for several rural areas to ensure that the villagers gain access to the mainstream areas in the state.
“The ASTC was operating these buses mainly to various places in the lower Assam districts. But violence in BTAD has brought the operation literally to a grinding halt. The functioning of ASTC divisions in Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Udalguri and Dhubri has been crippled,” the source said.
Sources said the violence has generated a fear psychosis in people across Assam, who are reluctant to travel by bus. The night buses to Upper Assam districts were seen carrying skeleton number of passengers, they added.
The ASTC operates more than 400 buses to connect various places in Upper Assam, central Assam, lower Assm and Barak Valley.
“The revenue earning by the ASTC has sharply gone down. Earlier, the corporation used to earn Rs 6-7 lakh per day and Rs 2 crore every month by operating buses. At present, the corporation is earning around Rs 2 lakh per day,” the source said.
Decline in revenue has already caused inordinate delay in releasing salaries to ASTC employees.
Sources said the ASTC management has been unable to deposit provident fund money to the PF office for the past five months.
The general secretary of State Transport Workers’ Association, Khurshid Alam, said even though the BTAD violence has affected the bus service, lack of foresightedness and long-term policy of the corporation’s management was responsible for the present situation in the ASTC.
“The ASTC’s primary objective is to provide service to the people, and unlike private operators making profit is not our sole motive as we have a social obligation to discharge. So, the state government has to come forward to provide financial assistance to the corporation if the latter fails to garner enough revenue for reasons like the recent BTAD violence and the annual flood, when the buses cannot be operated,” Alam said.