Kolkata: With five state transport corporations in West Bengal bleeding the government of Rs 600 crore in subsidy every year, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday hinted at the merger of some state transport corporations.
"There is need to bring the employees under one umbrella," Banerjee said and asked the state transport psus to prepare turn-around plans.
Flagging of 30 air-conditioned Volvo buses for Kolkata and the suburbs, she called for cut in wasteful expenditure.
"There is need for saving money by cutting wasteful expenditure. How much subsidy can we give?" Banerjee asked referring to the problem of loan repayment to the Centre faced by her government.
Acknowledging the dwindling fleet of city buses and demand-supply mismatch causing inconvenience to the commuters, she said "When I pass I notice a large number of people waiting for buses which they do not get.
She said that the fleet of buses has not grown commensurate with the population.
As per budgetary provision made by the state government, she said, soft loans would be given to unemployed young men to take out buses.
According to Transport minister Madan Mitra, Banerjee said there were plans for rolling out 800 buses for the benefit of commuters.
Transport department sources said that under the JNNURM scheme, 874 AC and non-AC buses would be bought at a cost of Rs 490 crore, of which the state government would provide Rs 315 crore.
Of them, 632 buses would run in Kolkata under the state transport undertakings, 80 in Siliguri, 60 in Jalpaiguri, 60 in Asansol and 42 in Durgapur.
The five corporations were Calcutta State Transport Corporation, South Bengal State Transport Corporation, North Bengal State Transport Corporation, West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation and Calcutta Tram Company (CTC).
Most of the Rs 600 crore annual subsidy went into paying salaries for its nearly 21,000 employees.