Sahakara Sarige, a transport firm running on the cooperative principle, facing financial difficulties, is looking for the government’s helping hand.
With an annual loss of over ₹90 lakh, following the hike in diesel prices in the recent months, besides the government’s refusal to increase passenger fare, the society wants the government to come to its rescue.
Operates in 76 routes
The firm operates in 76 routes, offering services to nearly 30,000 people in parts of three districts – Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga and Udupi. It was started in 1991 by employees of a private transport firm that is now defunct. As the private firm was closed down, the employees with no alternative source of income came together to form their own society to offer transport services.
“We were doing well till 2013 when the diesel price was ₹52 per litre. Today the price is ₹72 per litre, while the passenger fare is hardly revised. We are running our services under loss. Among the 76 routes we cover, 27 are in rural areas, which are by and large naxal affected. The revenue in these routes is less than the input cost,” said E.S. Dharmappa, president of the society.
Mr. Dharmappa worked as a conductor in the firm for several years. The bylaw adopted by the society encourages any worker to occupy high posts in the administration. Like KSRTC and other transport corporations, this society also offers bus passes to students at concession price, free passes to the physically challenged and freedom fighters, besides concession for journalists in the area.
The firm has already submitted memorandums to the government and sought financial help to overcome the loss. “At present, we have 280 employees, who look after the operation of 76 buses. The total assets of the firm is worth about ₹16 crore. We are making all efforts to keep the organisation going. Sometimes, we are forced to raise loans to continue the services,” the president said.
The society has appealed to the government to reimburse the cost incurred towards pass-holders. That alone amounts to ₹8 crore a year. “Every day we cater to the needs of 12,000 students. The government should reimburse the cost and allow us to increase the fare, which is essential for the survival of the firm,” he added.