Several ministers, including the chief minister, and Road Transport Authority officials are hand in glove with private bus operators and taking monthly bribes from them, Action Committee of Mahabubnagar Bus Fire Accident Victims has alleged.
While making the sweeping charge at a press conference here on Wednesday, committee members threw a challenge that they were ready for a public debate on the matter.
They said the victims’ families were yet to receive ex gratia or any other compensation or assistance from the government even a couple of months after the horrific bus inferno that charred the lives of 45 passengers in a multi-axle luxury Volvo bus that apparently rammed a culvert near Palem village in Mahbubnagar in the wee hours of October 30.
The committee called for a State-wide candle light vigil on December 28 to press the government to own responsibility. In the state capital, the vigil will be held at KBR Park in Banjara Hills.
The committee members said that they were not expecting any sympathy but vowed not to let those responsible for the death of 45 passengers go unpunished.
D Sudhakar, committee coordinator, alleged, “A sum of `5,000 per bus per day is collected by private bus travel operators in the state on around 2,000 buses to pay a sum of about `22 crore to the government. The chief minister gets around `8 crore, the transport minister around `4 crore, other ministers and politicians around `9 crore and the rest goes to RTA officials.”
According to him, over 1,500 buses plying across the state do not have valid permits. “They are all contract carriages, which means they have permission only to take tourists, but they are operating like stage carriers. They are not supposed to sell tickets online. These are all clear violations of law and it is an open secret,” Sudhakar said and alleged that a bus mafia was controlling the passenger transport sector in the state.
Friends, relatives and supporters of the victims once again reiterated their demand for release of `25 lakh ex gratia from the government apart from a job for one of the family members. They also demanded the immediate arrest of the bus owner JC Uma Reddy and the resignation of transport minister Botcha Satyanarayana.