ASTC Fails to Pay Retirement Dues Despite Suicides, Legal Cases, by Ex-employees
GUWAHATI: Retired officials of Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) are facing hardships as the organisation has not paid them their dues ranging from a few lakh of rupees to more than Rs 30 lakhs across different segments of employees.
“I retired in the year 2016 and it has been three years. I should have got around Rs 20 lakhs from the department, but till now I have not received any amount. My family is facing a cash crunch as last year my son got married and most of our savings went into it,” a retired ASTC official told G Plus.
“Since 2016, every year ASTC receives around Rs 25 crores from the government. They are investing money in electric buses but are failing to do justice to the retired employees who worked with the organisation for decades”, he further added.
Bhupendra Nath Baishya, an official who retired on 2015 said, “After continuously pressuring the authorities, till now I have received around Rs 2.5 lakhs only out of a total due of around Rs 13.5 lakhs.”
He further said, “My daughter got married this year for which I had requested our Managing Director Mr AP Tiwari to grant me Rs 2 lakhs out of my total dues. He agreed to give me Rs 1 lakh for the marriage but later I received only Rs 50, 000 for the marriage.”
G Plus has not been able to independently verify Bashiya's claim.
“As I didn’t receive my retirement dues, I had to take loan from people for the marriage. Now I am struggling to repay the amount. We don’t have any pension; I would like to ask Mr Tiwari how he expects us to run our families,” Baishya said.
Recently, 62-year-old Anil Kalita, another retired ASTC official, committed suicide while his family members were out enjoying Durga Puja.
As per reports, Kalita was finding it difficult to bear the expenses of the four-member family since he was yet to receive his retirement benefits.
This is not the only case. In September, two retired ASTC officials from Jorhat and Lakhimpur also committed suicide after going through a financial crunch as they didn’t receive their dues from the organisation.
Suicides and ASTC have a long relation. Back in 2002, when the ASTC was on the verge of shutting down, several employees committed suicide after the government failed to pay salaries for more than six months.
It has been almost 5 years since ASTC has stopped giving retirement benefits to its employees. There are more than 500 retired employees who have not yet received their dues. Many of them have taken the matter to Gauhati High Court following which some of them have received mere amounts of as low as a few thousand rupees from the organisation.
Talking to G Plus, AP Tiwari stated that, “we have paid dues of all those who retired between 2008 to 2014. From 2015 to 2019 the retirement dues are pending. We are trying our best to resolve this in a phase manner.”
Further he added that, Contributory Provident Fund (CPF) was also not paid to the employees from 2013. However, without mentioning the year, he stated that ASTC have paid Rs 43 crore as CPF to employees.
Recently, ASTC filed an application to the court requesting to extend the time to pay the retirement dues. The application states that, “ASTC shall pay the retirement dues of all the employees of ASTC, who had superannuated up to 31st March 2018, within 31st December 2019.”
An official of Assam State Transport Retired Employee Workers’ Parishad stated, “There is very less chance that we will get the retirement dues. More than 50 people have filed cases against ASTC. AP Tiwari has already paid a fine of Rs 50,000 after missing the hearing three times. What can we expect from this?”