New row erupts in KSRTC as MD alleges Rs 100-crore scam

Biju Prabhakar
Biju Prabhakar

Thiruvananthapuram: KSRTC chief managing director Biju Prabhakar has hit out against the trade unions, a section of employees besides exposing the fraud taking place in the department.

The managing director of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) Biju Prabhakar on Saturday levelled a series of allegations against a section of employees of the corporation.

The CMD said the top leadership’s grip over the department has to go. "Either the department will improve or I will go," he said. With the trade unions including, the CITU afiliated to the ruling CPM, coming out against CMD’s public criticism, a new battlefront has opened in the KSRTC .

He alleged financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 100 crore had taken place during 2012-15.

At a press meet, Prabhkar had levelled serious allegations against pension and audit department executive director K M Sreekumar in connection with the disappearance of Rs 100 crore in revenue receipts. By evening Sreekumar was transferred to Ernakulam as central zone administrative officer.

Later in the evening Biju Prabhakar clarified that he had never said that Sreekumar had embezzled Rs 100 crore. An explanation was sought from him due to the mismatch in accounts.

Speaking to reporters, Prabhakar said certain employees were allegedly involved in pilfering diesel from the depots and tampering with ticket-vending machines.

Prabhakar, a senior IAS officer, further said there was corruption in the local purchase of spareparts for the vehicles of the corporation. The CMD's open attack comes in the midst of the arguments between management and trade unions over the launch of KSRTC -Swift Company.

"There are 28,114 employees, some of whom skip duty after registering attendance. There are many engaged in ginger, coffee cultivation, some into private tutoring. However, we do not intend to dismiss anyone instead they will be re-assigned," he said.

He said those opposing the purchase of CNG buses for the corporation were engaged in looting diesel.

"An internal audit of the corporation found misappropriation of around Rs 100 crore during the 2012-15 and action will be taken against the then accounts manager Sreekumar,"the KSRTC managing director said.

He said the corporation would take disciplinary action against its vigilance executive director Sharaf Mohammad for taking back an employee who was remanded in a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) case. Employees affiliated to INTUC, a Congress party-led trade union, took out a march to the head office of the corporation, protesting against Prabhakar saying he defamed the employees. CPI(M)-affiliated trade union CITU hit out against the KSRTC's top official by saying it was not right to blame employees for the current situation. "Despite the financial constraints of the corporation, the employees remain loyal to the KSRTC. It was not right on part of the managing director to blame the employees. But, action must be taken against those involved in corruption," CITU leader and Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem told the reporters.

In the budget presented by Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac on January15, the state government had allotted Rs 1,800-crore assistance to the crisis-ridden KSRTC which included Rs 1,000 crore earmarked for salary, pension, and loan repayment.

MD lists out irregularities

Biju Prabhakar listed out the frauds taking place in the KSRTC. Local purchase worth Rs 4.5 crore takes place in 100 odd workshops. If the strings are tightened on local purchase then it would result in a situation where buses would not be on the roads in many places. The practice of buying spare parts at cheap rates and registering a higher price in account books is quite widespread in the department.

He said the KSRTC chief office is a centre of conspiracies.

Prabhakar said the shopping complexes attached to the KSRTC bus stands were constructed without the required study about the feasibility of such projects. The conversion to CNG is being opposed to continue with the diesel fraud showing higher trip distance. Only 20 workshops would remain functional as part of the rehabilitation package and the rest would be day maintenance mobile units.

The CMD said only 5 percent of employees were problematic. They might be having ginger farming in Wayanad or they may be going for trips to Nagercoil or other places. For them KSRTC should remain in the red. All that they need is a government label on their job.

Only those who joined KSRTC after holding the flags of political parties or got jobs paying bribes behave harshly with employees including women, Biju Prabhakar said.

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