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Home News Power Sector News Mamata gives nod to power tariff hike, mulls VRS for transport workers

Mamata gives nod to power tariff hike, mulls VRS for transport workers

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mamata banerjeeShe might be the messiah of common man by rolling back prices and holding back policy decisions at the Centre, but West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is again gearing up to take some unpopular decisions in her terrain. While on one hand Banerjee is mulling to go for a fourth hike in power tariff since she took office on May 20, 2011, the state is also looking to offer voluntary retirement schemes(VRS) for employees aged above 55 in the ailing state-run transport corporations, to rationalise the workforce.

According to an official in the state power department, the government has given nod to the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL) to approach the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC) for a further tariff hike and a proposal has been moved in this regard.


While the first increase was from Rs 4.27 per unit to Rs 4.71 per unit, for which the previous government was responsible for, the Banerjee government has allowed it to increase from Rs 4.71 to Rs 5.07 and then from Rs 5.07 to Rs 5.53 in January and February this year. According to sources, it may now be increased to Rs 5.87.

On the other hand, the transport department which is running in losses is mulling VRS for employees aged above 55 in transport corporations. "There are about 5,000 employees aged above 55. The proposal is to offer VRS to them. Honestly, there is additional workforce. Even if they take new people, that will be cost effective as their salaries will be much lower," an official in the state transport department said.

In response to a query on the same, state transport minister Madan Mitra, "Yes, we are looking at all kind of possibilities to make the corporations self-reliant." However, he did not comment, whether the retirement age will permanently be lowered to 55 for workers of transport corporations.There are about 18,000 employees in the five state-run transport corporations -- Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC), North Bengal State Transport Corporations (NBSTC), South Bengal State Transport Corporation (SBSTC) and West Bengal Surface Transport Corporations (WBSTC).

The state government has already declared that it will withdraw annual Rs 600 crore subsidy from transport corporations. "The state government is incurring losses of Rs 600 crore annually to provide subsidy to the ailing five corporations with nearly 18,000 employees. We are not in a position to continue that. They better pull up their socks or they will head for a natural death," Mitra said.

According to Mitra, the government has already taken certain "corrective measures" like running more buses on the profitable routes and on board ticket checking system. "The monthly revenues in the last two months have gone up significantly in transport corporations. But this is not enough to make theodies self-reliant."

Citing the example of CSTC, Mitra said, daily revenues from ticket sales has gone up to about Rs 20 lakh in the current month, compared to Rs 13 lakh per day in the corresponding period of last year.

Earlier the state increased milk prices by Rs 6 per litre. Also Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) has come out with a proposal to increase tram fare up to Rs 1.50 to revive the ailing transport systems, which is under "active consideration" of the government.

Source- Business standard

 

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