Thursday, Jun 19, 2003
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By Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
As they would meet the Chairman of DTC, A.J.S. Sawhney, at the DTC Headquarters at I.P. Extension tomorrow, the three Pakistan delegates would probably not realise that the organisation they are dealing with is almost on the brink of bankruptcy and has been regularly delaying payment of salary to its employees for the past four months.
While officials in the Accounts department of DTC are hopeful that the salary may be released in a couple of days under a compromise formula reached by the Corporation with the Delhi Government, the employees are worried that things may soon go out of hand.
``The payment is held up as DTC is fully dependent on the Delhi Government for release of salary money and the government has not been releasing the full amount since February,'' said N.M. Thomas, general secretary of the DTC Workers Unity Centre.
Averring that earlier DTC was getting Rs 16 crores per month from Delhi Government as compensation for providing concessional passes and running service on non-profitable routes, the office- bearer said this subsidy was cut to half in February leading to the financial crisis and delay in release of salary.
Noting that the Delhi Government has all through been showing the release of funds as "ways and means'' loan -- which was to be returned -- Mr Thomas claimed it was this money and the accruing interest which formed a chunk of the Rs 800 crore outstand dues which the DTC owed the Delhi Government.
Another DTC employee, Santosh Kumar Rai alleged that since February DTC has been paying salaries to the staff by deducting money from other accounts such as Provident Fund and has due to such illegal practice even attracted a note from the authorities.
``We have so far resorted to picketing of various offices and plan to intensify the agitation if the problem is not resolved properly,'' said Mr Rai adding that even the DTC management had pleaded helplessness in solving it without financial assistance from the Delhi Government.
As for the Lahore bus service, the employees fear that it might eventually provide an excuse to the Delhi Government for privatising DTC. "By opting for hiring a Volvo bus on per kilometre payment basis, the Delhi Government has shown that it does not have faith in the ability of DTC to deliver the service. This when last time both the buses were donated by Ashok Leyland and this time too similar offers could have poured in,'' said Mr Thomas.
Noting that somewhere plans were afoot to create and sustain a crisis for putting the shutters down on DTC, the employees believe that recent happenings just point to the effort. "And by using the Lahore bus service as a test case along with recent induction of conductors on per kilometre travel basis, the waters are being tested.''
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