Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Private buses flout rules, eat into Government coffers

Private buses flout rules, eat into Government coffers

The Hindu

Cause a loss of Rs. 837 crores a year to State transport undertakings

# Government loses Rs. 2,412 crores during 2004-05
# Motor vehicle tax lost to the tune of Rs. 48 crores a year
# KSRTC sets up cell to monitor private buses, maxicabs
# Illegal operation of contract carriages is in Dakshina Kannada and Chikmagalur districts
# Private buses not supposed to park near STU bus stands

BANGALORE: It appears to be a never-ending story as violation of rules continues unabated at the cost of human lives and crores of rupees of revenue to the state transport undertakings (STUs).

Private stage carriage buses and maxicabs plying on nationalised routes, and contract carriage buses operating as stage carriages have been causing a revenue loss to the tune of around Rs. 837 crores a year to the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation, North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation.

The loss is almost one-third of the total revenue earnings of STUs (Rs. 2,412 crores) during 2004-05. Also, the Government is losing motor vehicle tax to the tune of about Rs. 48 crores a year.

There are 28,182 stage carriage buses, including about 15,000 STU buses, 53,118 omni buses, 9,453 private buses, 987 contract carriage buses, 44,041 jeeps, 25,192 maxicabs and 32,860 motor cabs registered in the State as on June 30, 2005.

Severely hit by illegal operations, the KSRTC has set up a "clandestine cell" to monitor private buses, contract carriages and maxi cabs that eat into its revenue.

According to sources in KSRTC, the estimation of revenue loss is a conservative one and that the actual loss will be much more.

While about 2,500 buses, including private, contract and omni buses and around 3,000 maxicabs operate illegally in KSRTC jurisdiction, 100 buses and 1,400 cabs operate in NEKRTC jurisdiction, 340 buses and 4,300 cabs in NWKRTC jurisdiction and 350 buses and 630 cabs operate illegally in BMTC jurisdiction.

Private stage carriages, which obtain permit to ply on non-nationalised routes, particularly on rural routes, flout permit conditions and operate on nationalised routes.

On the one hand, rural areas are deprived of transport facility forcing people to resort to private modes of transport, on the other, private operators ferry passengers on routes meant for STUs causing revenue loss to the corporations.

Operation of contract carriages was allowed two years ago after the government repealed the Acquisition of Private Carriages Act. The government intended to allow private buses to operate within a jurisdiction of 20 km from all district headquarters. However, the plan was limited to Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad pockets following stiff resistance from STUs and the public.

As per the permit, contract carriages have to operate between two particular points and should not operate as regular stage carriage buses. However, they have been operating as stage carriages between the permitted points and many buses operate only on profitable sections of permitted routes.

According to Shankaranarayana Bhat, convener of "Raste Balakedarara Vedike" in Balehonnur, Chikmagalur district, illegal operation of contract carriage buses is rampant in Dakshina Kannada and Chikmagalur districts. He has made a number of representations to the government and the Lokayukta to stop the violation, but in vain. He said private buses are not supposed to park near STU bus stands, which norm was regularly violated in the presence of police and transport department officials.

Apart from these, more than 2,000 buses that are under All India Tourist Permit violate the permit condition and operate as stage carriages. Though they are supposed to carry tourists on organised tours, they too pick up and drop passengers at various points in cities and towns they operate.


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