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Brows raised over award

Shillong, Jan. 11: At a time when the Meghalaya Transport Corporation (MTC) is in the red for poor performance, an award to the corporation as the best performing transport body in the Northeast for 2009-10 has surprised many.

The award was recently presented by the Association of State Road Transport Undertakings, an official body of the Union ministry of road transport and highways.

The resident commissioner of New Delhi, Pankaj Jain, received the award on behalf of the corporation.

The award contradicts the report of the Assembly committee on public undertakings on the poor performance of the corporation in 2007-08 and 2009-10. The report had made it clear that corporation was a loss-making unit because of overstaffing and pension liabilities coupled with poor management of the fleet.

It said the main liability of the corporation was on account of the salaries paid to the ministerial and the mechanical staff. The expenditure incurred by way of salary exceeded the earnings of the corporation.

According to the report, the average operating cost for the last three years from 2007-08 to 2009-10 was more than double compared to the average traffic earning.

The report had suggested that the corporation should consider phase-wise VRS of the ministerial and the mechanical staff. The corporation has a pension liability of Rs 15.22 lakh per month for the government employees who were absorbed in and retired from the corporation.

The government is paying only 50 per cent of the cost and the rest has to be borne by the corporation.

The committee had also asked the corporation to increase its revenue generation by way of putting up hoardings on buses, opening of shopping malls in all the transport complexes in the state wherever feasible. It also wanted the government to introduce goods transport, as there was a bright scope of earning more revenue from this initiative.

“It is expected that with the implementation of the action plan already prepared and approved by the officials, the corporation will improve its functioning and earnings. Otherwise, the committee will be compelled to suggest to the government for its closure, or the government may find out alternative means for its improvement,” the report added.

The Meghalaya Transport Corporation Workers’ Union had also resorted to strikes on several occasions, the last one being in November for the pending salary and arrears.

Meghalaya transport minister A.T. Mondal today said the organisation, which awarded the transport corporation might have its own way of assessing the performance of the corporation.

Defending the award, the transport minister said the Association of State Road Transport Undertakings, which gave the award might have assessed the overall facilities provided to the passengers by the corporation.

A member of the workers’ union said it was an irony that the government accepted the award for the “best performance” of the MTC at a time when it was facing difficulty even in disbursing salary to the staff.

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