Cauvery protests eat into KSRTC staff's salary

Employees forced to go on leave without pay

The ongoing agitation against the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu has deprived a week’s salary for over 350 employees of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).

They are forced to go on leave without pay, as nearly 200 of the total 460 buses attached to the district division stopped plying to different routes for the last nine days in the wake of protests against the Cauvery River Authority’s directive to the Karnataka government to release 9,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu.

The protesters blocked the roads in Maddur, Mandya, Srirangapatna and Pandavapura taluks during the week-long protests. Besides, the transport officials fear that the protesters may damage the buses. Hence, the bus services are suspended, though it caused a loss of Rs 12 lakh to Rs 15 lakh a day to the corporation.

The KSRTC district division so far could earn a revenue of only Rs 14.48 lakh against the target of Rs 32.17 lakh since August 7, while the expenditure was Rs 31.33 lakh. The corporation suffered a loss of Rs 16.85 lakh and the protests worsened the situation, said sources.

As per the corporation rules, the employees will be paid only if they report for duty. If not, they should take leave compulsorily, said N Prakashbabu, the Divisional Controller.

The rule has proved to be a noose for conductors and drivers though they are willing to work, but are forced to go on leave. The buses scheduled between 5 am and 7 am ply while the services later are cancelled. Conductors and drivers will get salary for the day even if the bus plies only once for the entire day. However, most of them did not get opportunity to work on all these days due to the protests.

“We come with a hope every morning that today situation will be normal and we will get our salary. But, I had to take leave compulsorily for the last five days as the buses did not ply. Now, all my leaves are exhausted and I will have to go on leave without pay in future. How to run family if we don’t get salary for weeks?” said a driver, on condition of anonymity.

The employees staged a protest recently to draw the authorities’ attention to their problems, but the authorities have not responded yet.

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