covid: Bengaluru: 108 BMTC employees died due to Covid-19, only four families received Rs 30 lakh compensation | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: The government has been pitifully slow in paying out promised compensation to families of employees of state transport undertakings (STUs) and this has left many of them struggling to make ends meet.
The recent incident of wife of a BMTC driver, who died due to Covid-19, committed suicide after allegedly killing her son and daughter, has once again highlighted the plight of STU employees in Karnataka.
Sources said 108 BMTC employees died reportedly due to Covid-19. This includes 39 deaths during the first wave and 69 during the second wave. However, only four BMTC employees received compensation so far.
Last year, the state government announced Rs 30 lakh compensation for Covid warriors in the event of their death from the disease. In May 2020, then deputy CM and transport minister Laxman Savadi had said families of drivers and conductors who were roped in for emergency services, including ferrying hospital staff and other emergency workers, would be paid Rs 30 lakh compensation if these employees died in the line of duty.
In February 2021, Savadi handed over Rs 30 lakh compensation for the family of only seven employees who died after contracting Covid-19 and promised to pay the compensation to the remaining employees in a phased manner.
However, BMTC officials now say the government has asked respective STUs to pay compensation to Covid-19 warriors. “How can we pay Rs 30 lakh compensation when we don’t even have money to pay salaries?” said a BMTC official.
V Anbu Kumar, managing director, BMTC, insisted all will get the compensation. “We treat those who died of Covid while on duty as Covid warriors,” he said. “We have paid Rs 30 lakh each to families of four employees and others will get financial relief in a phased manner. We understand that family members of the deceased need support, but our financial condition is weak, making it difficult for us to pay compensation to all bereaved families. Only skeletal services were running during that time so only those who were on duty then are eligible for compensation.”
Vasantha, 36, wife of late Prasanna Kumar, a BMTC employee attached to Peenya depot in Bengaluru, died by suicide after allegedly killing her son and daughter on Saturday. The family was said to have been in financial dire straits after Kumar died in August 2020. BMTC officials said they had paid PF amount of around Rs 3.5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh insurance to the family. “But gratuity and leave encashment worth Rs 4 lakh were yet to be paid” said an official.
However, Anbu Kumar said: “We also covered Prasanna Kumar’s hospital expenses of around Rs 1.2 lakh and gave an endorsement that his child will get employment in BMTC once he turned 18. We were shocked after they took an extreme step. Efforts are on to counsel family members of other employees who lost their lives.”
BMTC officials said employees are going through a rough patch due to the pandemic. “The cost of diesel has increased from Rs 65 per litre last year to more than Rs 90 now. Operational cost has increased by Rs 10 per km due to soaring fuel prices and reduced ridership. Ticket revenue has reduced from Rs 5 crore before Covid to Rs 2.7 crore now. Ridership too has reduced from 35 lakh to 20 lakh now,” an official said.
In April 2021, transport employees staged a 15-day strike. The demands included they be bought under the government’s payroll, privileges and incentives as government employees as well as compensation of Rs 30 lakh to transport workers who died on Covid duty. However, many employees were dismissed, suspended and transferred after the strike.
38 KSRTC employees due to Covid
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KSRTC records show 38 employees died during the first Covid wave and 58 during the second wave. “Of the 38 employees, only 28 of them died during the duty so others are not eligible for Rs 30 lakh compensation. Seven employees received compensation so far. We don’t have money to pay compensation to the remaining employees. Those who died during the second wave are not eligible for this compensation. But family members of all employees who lost their lives will get Rs 3 lakh each under the insurance cover” said an official. Many employees of other two corporations: KKRTC and NWKRTC also died due to Covid but no records available.
Delayed salaries
Many STU employees said they received only half of August’s salary so far. The remaining amount is yet to be disbursed even though the September salary is supposed to be credited before October 10. “We are paying 50% from our funds and remaining 50% from the state government but the government share hasn’t come yet. We are still waiting for it. We will clear the August dues once we get it” said an official.





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Sagar Biswas

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