City buses on guard
Posted: Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 | Posted by: Ashish Rao | Views: 17473
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The recent decision by Karnataka’s transport minister has created quite a turmoil in the otherwise smooth running of the private bus owner’s association of South Kanara.  Private Buses which form the life line of lakhs of people in South Kanara might get a new competitor, the government buses. Reacting to this the DK Bus Owner’s association has decided to hold a meeting with local MLAs on November 8, 2008. Nobody in the district expected this sudden change, but the transport minister has begun thinking seriously about this. He has filed an affidavit in the High Court about starting to run government buses on the city’s roads.

The private bus service in South Kanara is one of the most prompt, clean and well maintained services in the state. Most of the people depend on the bus for travel. Past  District Commissioners, Superintendent Of Police who had served the district all have felt the same. In 1976 when private bus operator’s started operating on government routes there were a lot of political changes. On January 30 1976, even at the time of emergency around 960 buses were bought to serve the people. Even then the government had not taken initiative. Thus the question being asked by the private bus operators is why this sudden change. Till 2003 whatever government buses which plied on the streets were on a loss of Rs 500 crores.  So, how is it justified that if government buses start it will function profitably?  Presently more than 900 buses ply on government bus routes.

In recent times the government has had a lack of staff to run their services. They also stopped certain buses on some routes due to shortage of tyres. They do not have enough trained mechanics as well. Thus the private operators feel that they are being cheated by the government by the recent decision. No bus operator supports this new plan. Jayaram Shekha, president of the DK Bus Owner’s association said,” The minister has not enough experience in this matter. The two judges on the bench in this case are ex- KSRTC employees. How can the minister file an affidavit We have support from our local MLAs and will not allow this to happen. We will not strike but are planning to file a counter case against the minister, as he is indulging in contempt of court.”

Supporting the bus services are hundreds of other workers like mechanics, tyre retreaders, body builders , spare parts owners, petrol bunks etc. All these might suffer because of the new decision. Many might also be without jobs. There are atleast a 50,000 strong workforce behind the private transport system. The private bus owners have contacted and sought the support of Sadanand Gowda(MLA), District In charge minister Krishna Palemar and Karavali Pradhikara president Nagaraj Shetty. All of them have condemned the new plan. In comparison, to government buses the private buses have value added services like providing concessions. Concessions have been in practice even before the government buses ever started. 60 % for students , Handicap passes  and passes to the poor children at an ashram in Kuttara Padavu have all been provided by the private operators.  Although there are no plans of going on strike the private operators are busy working out a plan to convince the government to stop this new project.  They are quite confident as the local ministers are supporting them and care is being taken not to indulge in violence.
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