As many as 99 buses of the ailing Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) suffered damage during the violence across the State on Wednesday and the dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi on Thursday.
Of the 99 buses that are now confined to depots across the State, 80 were damaged in the violence that erupted on Wednesday morning after the entry of two women below the age of 50 years to the Sabarimala temple.
The highest number of 23 buses damaged was in Thiruvananthapuram district followed by 21 in adjoining Kollam district and 10 in Pathanamthitta.
As the KSRTC withdrew buses from 10 p.m. on Wednesday fearing ire of the protesters and as services were not operated during 6 a.m.-6 p.m. hartal period, the authorities could prevent further damage to the fleet on Thursday. The hartal supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party did not affect chain services in the Nilackal-Pampa-Nilackal corridor.
KSRTC Chairman and Managing Director Tomin J. Thachankary said the State transport undertaking has suffered a loss of ₹3.35 crore on account of the damage to the 99 buses.
‘Even the Volvo/Scania Chill buses that cost ₹1. 25 crore were not spared by the agitators. The damage was mainly to windshield glass, rear emergency glass, tail lamps and headlights of the buses in stone-pelting,” he said.
Commuters on the nationalised sector and the interior and hilly areas of the State where the KSRTC alone operates service will be hit as it will take over a week to get the damage rectified, he said.
The Kerala Police decision to invoke the provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act against those indulging in damaging the buses had not prevented the agitators from turning their ire against them.
Those who are booked will get bail only if they deposit a portion of the total damage suffered to the buses in court.
Last year, the CMD said the KSRTC suffered a loss of ₹10 crore towards the damage suffered to the fleet in various hartals.
The KSRTC will get the compensation to the damage only after the case is closed.
The KSRTC CMD appealed to all political parties and organisations to exempt the KSRTC like milk, hospitals and newspapers from hartals.
Later, the KSRTC took the damaged buses in convoy along the arterial road here to convey to the public the damage and to secure their support.