RTCs fail to pay COVID compensation to families
Last year, the State government announced that ₹30 lakh compensation would be paid to the families of Road Transport Corporations (RTCs) employees who died of COVID-19. Several months have passed, but kin of over 250 employees are still waiting for the promised amount.
The corporations are buying more time, citing that they do not have financial resources and that they are waiting for detailed guidelines from the State government on payment of the compensation.
According to data, 276 RTC employees have died of COVID-19, of which 96 were working in KSRTC, 108 in BMTC, 48 in NWKRTC, and in 24 Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation.
RTC officials claim that of the deceased, a majority contracted the virus off duty and as per government directions sent earlier, only families of on-duty employees who died of COVID-19 are eligible for the compensation. Sources said that RTCs have identified that only 110 contracted the disease while on duty.
But this is being challenged. “We collected information under the Right to Information Act. In all four RTCs, 276 staffers died of COVID-19, of which only 11 families have received the compensation. Families who had lost their earning members are in distress. A few days back, dependents of an employee who died of COVID-19 committed suicide because of financial distress. We urge the State government to fulfil promises on providing compensation,” said Taher Hussain, State president of the Welfare Party of India.
KSRTC MD Shivayogi C. Kalasad said: “Earlier, the State government asked the corporation to compensate the families by raising funds from internal resources. The issue was also discussed in the Board. Considering the financial condition, the Board decided to ask the government to provide the funds.”
He maintained that corporations are waiting for detailed guidelines from the government. “We need clarity on identification of employees who died of COVID-19 while on duty and how to treat cases of those who died while on leave, participating in the strike, or others,” he said.
Delay in payment of compensation has angered employees, “Families who lost their earning members are facing many problems. The State government is sending a bad message by delaying the payment. The RTCs should establish a helpdesk to address the grievances of the families,” a BMTC employee said.