While Karnataka remains indulgent towards errant private bus operators, Andhra Pradesh is seizing buses from Bangalore violating permit laws.
Many Karnataka buses hold contract carriage permits, which means they are meant for tourists and not regular passengers. They violate rules and issue tickets. Over the last three months, since the fire in a Volvo bus that killed 53 passengers in Mehboobnagar, transport authorities in that state have been cracking down on bus operators violating stage and contract carriage permits.
The tragic accident took place when a Jabbar Travels bus, plying from Bangalore to Hyderabad, hit a culvert and erupted in flames.
Andhra Regional Transport officals have seized at least 1,500 buses from different states. About 300 buses are now parked in Hyderabad and 200 in Rangareddy district. Many of these buses are from Karnataka.
Tour operators in Karnataka claim they do not know why their buses are being seized. “Over the last three months, the RTO has been stopping buses entering Andhra Pradesh. Nine of our buses have remained there for the last 15 days and we do not know why. We have paid taxes of `1.2 lakh,” said Veeresh of National Travels. Other operators such as SRS Travels and Sharma Travels also confirmed their buses had been seized in Andhra Pradesh and pleaded ignorance about the reason.
T Raghunath, Regional Transport Officer, Hyderabad, said despite the crackdown, buses continue to violate norms.
“Buses that have a contract carriage permit are not allowed to take passengers across states. Stage carriage contracts are issued for this. We have seized buses that have been violating this permit. The penalty is a court fine of `10,000,” he said.
The authority is also contemplating increasing the penalty for repeat offenders. “We were also lenient before the Volvo accident. But since then, we have taken up this drive seriously. When we can do it, why can’t the Transport officials in Karnataka?” he questioned.
Soon after the Volvo fire, Transport Commissioner K Amarnarayana had told Express that violations of permits have been taking place for long. “Although there are checkposts, unless people cooperate, there is no way to monitor permit violations,” he said. He also claimed that there weren’t enough inspectors to check the violations.
“We have brought 90 per cent of the violations in check and will continue the drive,” said Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy.