Shimla: A hike in diesel prices announced by the central government has only made the grim financial situation of state transport services worse and the government is contemplating a 25 percent hike in bus fares to partially offset the accumulated losses.
Transport minister Kishan Kapoor told My Himachal News that other than raising transport tariffs there was no other option left to keep Himachal Road Transport Corporation afloat.
He said the recent hike in petroleum products by the UPA government is bound to impact prices for the common man and it will also increase the running cost of public transport services.
Holding the previous government responsible for financial mismanagement of the transport services, Kapoor said that the earlier congress government had failed to look after the interest of HRTC and kept the fares stagnant at April 2003 prices even though the price of diesel was increased several times since then.
The financial situation of HRTC was so bad that it was meeting the salary expenses of the staff from general provident fund account, he said, and an amount of Rs 38.96 crore had been drawn from it.
Accumulated losses of HRTC have gone exceeded Rs 425 crores.
Kapoor revealed that it was proposed to increase fares by as much as 18.5 paisa per kilometer in hilly areas and 11.9 paisa in plain areas of the state. Currently the fares are charged at 74 paisa for hilly areas and 47.50 paisa in lower regions.
He said that since the last tariff hike, prices of diesel had increased by 47 %, spare parts by 78 % and tires by 50 percent. For every rupee increase in diesel prices, the transport corporation incurred a annual loss of Rs 4 crore on running costs alone, he added.
The hike would also enable private operators to keep their services afloat and offer better services to the people, he added.
In the absence of a good rail network, the state is mainly dependent on road transport and public transport services are heavily relied up in meeting the commuting requirements of much of the people residing in rural and urban areas of Himachal Pradesh.