Indian Express: Chennai: Wednesday, May 17, 2017.
It is not just the staff and pensioners who are awaiting their rightful money from the State Transport Corporation. Financially precarious state transport undertakings have been unable to release money to the tune of Rs 280 crore to accident victims despite court directions.
An RTI reply from state transport corporations in Madurai, Coimbatore, Salem and Kumbakonam reveals that the corporations have failed to release Rs 280 crore compensation to nearly 9,100 accident victims for more than two decades.
Kin of accident victims fight the court battle at their own expense.
According to State government data, out of 37,522 accidents that were reported in the four transport divisions, 7,103 were fatal ones.
As per Section 140 of Motor Vehicles Act (MVA), the owner/owners of motor vehicles are liable for payment of compensation for death or permanent disablement as a result of accident by involvement of motor vehicles.
However, 19,364 cases filed regarding these accidents are still pending.
TI response from corporations to MDMK youth wing secretary V Eswaran stated 9,141 cases were closed and Rs 280.21 crore was yet to be distributed to relatives of accident victims after court directive.
The remaining four transport corporations refused to share information sought on these lines.
Express had reported that due to non-settlement of awarded cases by state transport undertakings, 4,771 buses were impounded by various courts during the five year period ending March 2015.
“There are nearly 22,500 buses operated by all the eight transport corporations put together. But none have an insurance policy to cover third party risks,” said highly-placed sources in Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC).
Sources added that this has forced STUs to shed money from their own coffers towards awarding accident claims. Out of the 4,771 buses impounded by various courts, 692 buses were not released till date and this has resulted in an additional loss of Rs 213 crore. TNSTC has sought cover under section 146 (3) of MVA which exempted STUs from having an insurance policy. However, the same provision mandates STUs to create an insurance fund to meet third party liabilities.
This corpus fund (Tamil Nadu Accident Claim Settlement Fund) was created in 2015-16 for speedy settlements. Accordingly, a fund of `40 crore was established with a yearly contribution of `20 crore from the State government and the balance by all STUs from 2010.
“The already cash-strapped STUs have struggled to earmark necessary funds towards this component,” said Babu Raj, a TNSTC employee from Chennai who has been fighting to resolve this issue.
“Thousands of families, mostly from economically weaker sections have struggled without the compensation reaching them on time. It was high time the State sanctioned necessary funds to meet the high demand,” Eswaran told Express.