Central permit rule poses challenge to MVD, KSRTC
Earlier the government protected KSRTC by limiting the stage carriage services of private operators below 140-km distance.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Central government law on granting All India Tourist Permit (AITP) is challenging the monopoly of KSRTC in operating inter-state services. Under the new law, vehicle owners can register their buses in the state of their choice and operate service anywhere in the country. This will not only affect the passenger loyalty of KSRTC but also the tax collection of the motor vehicles department (MVD).
The transport department, worried over the development, has called for a meeting with the top officials and advocate general to find legal solutions, on Tuesday. Recently the MVD stopped the service of a private contract carriage (Robin) operating from Pathanamthitta to Coimbatore using AITP granted by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The officers could not find anything unlawful against the permit. But they cancelled the fitness certificate of the vehicle by citing minor aspects.
Contract Carriage Operators Association (CCOA) has come out against the MVD action. “Robin was operating lawfully. However, MVD found frivolous charges to stop the service. AITP can be useful for contract carriage buses to operate services legally,” said CCOA general secretary, S Prasanthan.
Earlier the government protected KSRTC by limiting the stage carriage services of private operators below 140-km distance. However private buses can override the state permits granted by MVD using the All India Tourist Vehicles (Permits) Rules, 2023. Even then the private contract carriage buses can operate both inter-state and intra-state services discreetly, either complimenting the services undertaken by the KSRTC. The tickets for the services are sold online and the buses do not display the boards in order to attract passengers on the road.
The MVD also stands to lose in terms of tax collection through AITP. It costs Rs 3.5 lakh for a bus operator to get an AITP. The bus owner can also choose states that have lower taxes for registering their vehicle, irrespective of the state in which they operate.
“The impact of the Central law would be huge. Unless the court gives clarity on the permit described in AITP it would be difficult to enforce the state law,” said an MVD officer. Transport secretary and KSRTC CMD, Biju Prabhakar warned that the buses soliciting passengers from bus stands using AITP will be confiscated for permit violation.