Pensioners of loss making Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) today called off their protest over hold up in the payments after the state government assured to clear all arrears at the earliest. The assurance was made during talks held here tonight by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with representatives of KSRTC pensioners, who have been on the protest in front of the state secretariat for the past few days, an official release said. The development came even as two former employees of the KSRTC committed suicide allegedly due problems faced by them following non-payment of pension. While Karunakaran Nair of nearby Nemom consumed some poisonous substance and died last night, Natesh Babu from Thalassery hanged himself in a lodge at Waynad, police said. There are about 40,000 pensioners in the KSRTC and their pensions have been held up by the corporation due to the severe financial crisis faced by it.
The opposition Congress-led UDF had recently alleged in the state assembly that at least 10 retired KSRTC employees had committed suicide in the last 20 months due to irregular pension payment under the LDF rule. The claim was made by the opposition front as it sought to move an adjournment motion to discuss the hardship faced by the families of the pensioners. The meeting convened by Vijayan tonight was also attended by Transport Minister A K Saseendran and KSRTC Managing Director A Hemachandran. The government assured that the pension arrears would be cleared as early as possible following which the pensioners called off their agitation, the release said.
It said the government has decided to disburse the pension through cooperative banks. A consortium of coopreative banks, the KSRTC and the government have signed a memorandum of understanding in this regard, the release said. Considering the difficult situation now (faced by the corporation), the necessary funds would be given by the government to KSTRC, it added.