Bengaluru: Corruption allegations against BMTC after two bus drivers die by suicide

Trade union leaders have alleged that BMTC drivers are forced to work 12 hours a day without overtime pay, and must allegedly pay bribes to apply for leaves.
The inside of a BMTC bus
The inside of a BMTC bus
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The death of a Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus driver has thrown up allegations of harassment in the transport corporation. Holabasappa Chinchankandi, a driver with the Channasandra depot, died of suicide on August 28, and a note written by him alleged corruption and harassment within the BBMP. The 48-year-old was found dead at the RR Nagar bus depot, and the note allegedly named the manager of the BMTC’s 21st depot in RR Nagar, Mallikarjunaiah.

On Tuesday, September 5, family members of the deceased drivers, several BMTC drivers, and conductors backed by the AAP staged a protest demanding that the Transport minister visit the family and provide them with relief. They also demanded that Mallikarjunaiah be arrested. Based on a complaint filed by Holabasappa’s wife, the police have filed an FIR against RR Nagar depot manager Mallikarjunaiah under section 306 (abetment of suicide). He has also been suspended, and an inquiry is underway by the BMTC.

Sources in the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) told TNM that Holabasappa took the extreme step as his personal life and mental wellbeing was adversely affected allegedly due to the work pressure and alleged corrupt practices by the manager and other officials. They also alleged that the BMTC is short-staffed and has not hired more drivers, resulting in employees being forced to work for over 12 hours a day without overtime compensation. Further, employees are allegedly declined leave requests for any purpose, and are allegedly asked to pay bribes to the management if they need to take leaves.

Another BMTC driver, Raj Kumar, also took his life on the same day as Holabasappa. The Times of India reported that the 38-year-old had health issues but was still forced to come to work. Anand, the leader of an AAP-affiliated union of transport workers, told TOI that 30 BMTC drivers died by suicide since April 2021. “There are complaints of corruption and harassment, but senior officials and the transport minister are turning a blind eye,” he said, and alleged corruption in assigning routes and getting new buses.

"There is pressure on drivers and conductors to increase the earnings per km (EPKM). Average EPKM of most routes is Rs 20-Rs 30 but they insist it should be Rs 40. To meet the target, they need to run buses on routes that have high patronage. To get those routes, one has to pay a bribe of Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 to officials," he claimed.

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.   

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584


Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222


Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.


State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 amd and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to inidviduals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those  undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726 

Click here for working helplines across India.

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