People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXVII

No. 04

January 27, 2013

 

 

KERALA

 

Govt Concedes Demands, Land Struggle Concludes

 

N S Sajith

 

AFTER its splendid sixteen days long conduct, the historic land struggle in Kerala concluded on a victory note on January 18, 2013, as the government of the United Democratic Front (UDF) had to concede to the demands raised by the Bhoosamrakshana Samiti (Committee for the Protection of Land). The committee is comprised of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), All India  Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU), Adivasi Kshema Samiti and Pattika Jathi Kshema Samiti.

 

The struggle, which started on January 1, was withdrawn after a meeting the Chief Minister Ommen Chandi and revenue minister Adoor Prakash had had with the leaders of the Bhoosamrakshana Samiti on January 16 night. Leaders of the samiti, however, made it clear that the struggle was being withdrawn only temporarily and the next endeavour would be to pressurise the government in case it fails to implement the promises the chief minister had made in the meeting. On behalf of the samiti, E P Jayarajan and A Vijayraghavan also said that the samiti would be carefully watching the next moves of the government.

 

As of now, the government seems to have conceded the main demand of distribution of excess land in 139 centres, as identified by the Bhoosamrakshana Samiti; these are the centres where the samiti had unleashed its massive struggles for the preceding 16 days. The government has also agreed to distribute three cents of land to each of the one lakh landless families and the last date of filing an application for the land allotment has been extended up to February 15. The distribution of pattas of the fallow land would be accelerated, the chief minister said.

 

KERALA RTC ON THE

VERGE OF CLOSURE

The sudden hike of diesel price has put the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, the largest public sector undertaking of Kerala, into a perilous situation. Soon after the hike was announced, more than a hundred of the KSRTC buses were shifted to the workshop in the name of repair, with minister Aryadan Muhammed warning that more buses could be halted in the coming days. Though Aryadan Muhammed, the transport minister, has been repeatedly lamenting about the fate of the corporation and has been citing the huge lose of Rs 900 crore, no action has so far been taken to save this public utility from closure.

 

A huge hike of Rs 11.53 per litre of diesel by the Indian Oil Corporation, the sole supplier of the fuel, has now brought the KSRTC on the verge of closure as it means an enormous monthly liability of Rs 15 crore. On the other hand, the hike in the price of fuel for private buses has been confined to just 50 paise. The reason there has been a huge hike of Rs 11.53 in case of the KSRTC is that it comes under the bulk user category. Due to this hike, the KSRTC has to pay Rs 60.20 instead of Rs 48.67 for each litre of diesel.

 

The KSRTC buses, which ply for 16 lakh kilometres everyday, consume 4.5 lakh litres of diesel. As per the new rate, thus, the corporation has to face an additional monthly liability of Rs 15 crore. The corporation is currently incurring a loss of Rs 70 crore every month.

 

A bus plies on an average 300 to 400 kilometres and needs 100 litres of fuel everyday. Due to the hike, therefore, the fuel bill per bus has increased to Rs 6020 from Rs 4867. A salary revision for the employees, which has to be implemented this month, would also cause an additional liability of Rs 14 crore. All these factors mean a deficit of Rs 100 crore per month.

 

 

In this backdrop, the of corporation plans to reduce the bus trips though the experts pointed out that this decision would mean a further loss of revenue.

 

The CPI(M) state secretary, Pinaryi Vijayan, has demanded that the state government should take appropriate steps to save the KSRTC. The new decision to hike the fuel prices is also meant to destroy the public transport system, he said.

 

State CITUís general secretary Elamaram Kareem said that the anti-people policies of the state and central governments have caused damages to the public transport system. There is no other way but that the state government must shoulder the additional liability incurred by the corporation, he said.