November 9, 2020 10:28:01 pm
Rattled by the suicide of a financially troubled staffer of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), state Transport Minister Anil Parab on Monday announced that MSRTC will release two months’ salary before Diwali.
The transport body has been unable to pay salaries to its employees for three months due to the severe financial losses incurred during the lockdown months, and the subsequent low occupancy of buses.
The minister’s announcement came after Manoj Anil Chaudhari, a 30-year-old bus conductor employed with the Jalgaon depot of MSRTC, died by suicide on Monday morning. His family members claimed that Chaudhari had left behind a suicide note, in which he blamed the state government and MSRTC for pushing him to take the dire step by not releasing his salary regularly.
“My son worked with the Jalgaon depot of MSRTC. He had borrowed money and was not able to repay the loans as the MSRTC paid salaries erratically… He died by suicide because of this reason,” said Manoj’s father Anil Chaudhari.
After the incident came to light, opposition leaders, including former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, criticised the state government and demanded that Parab and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray be booked on charges of abetment of suicide.
The MSRTC workers’ union has been demanding the release of staffers’ salaries for over a month. Last week, another MSRTC staffer from Ratnagiri had ended his life by suicide.
After a meeting with senior MSRTC officers on Monday afternoon, Parab announced that the transport body will release one month’s salary and festival advance immediately, while another month’s salary will be deposited before Diwali, which falls on November 14.
“It’s true that three months’ pay for our staffers is pending but owing to the financial trouble we are in, like most government-run corporations, we were not able to pay salaries on time. I have already said that I am ready to borrow money to clear these dues. I have also requested the state government to grant us funds to provide relief to our staffers. However, things aren’t materialising. But considering the situation, we made some arrangements and I have directed the officials concerned to release one months’ salary and festival advance for Diwali immediately. They should start disbursing that in an hour. Salary for another month will be released before Diwali,” the minister told mediapersons
Parab said the MSRTC was trying to raise funds through loans to tackle the current financial crunch, and it was also in the process of making long-term plans for increasing revenue generation from non-transport sources such as development of land properties and renting out its facilities.
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