Having failed to ascertain specific causes of various accidents in the state despite inquiries, the state-owned Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) is now considering to review the 'zero book value' mechanism adopted to declare any bus as a condemned vehicle.
As none of the 'zero book value' (condemned) buses met with any accidents in the recent past, the corporation is now considering some changes in the mechanism and the further allotment criteria of buses.
In 2012, over 100 HRTC buses met with accidents killing nearly 90 persons while this year, the death toll so far is 57 in six major accidents after April.
A senior HRTC official said there would be no 'zero value buses' on the roads soon since new buses are about to come but the criteria for declaring 'zero book value' need to be reviewed.
However, the HRTC has 430 'zero book value' buses in its fleet of 2,200 buses. “There are some 1999 model buses still on the road and fit as per the zero book value mechanism,” he said
The official, while requesting anonymity, said that the allocating pattern of buses should also be changed as buses running in hilly areas should be allocated to depots of plane areas.
Though, some of officials have been terming this exercise as “extra-curricular” since case studies and enquiry reports have not hinted towards concrete reasons of accidents, making it difficult for the HRTC officials to decide about the way further.
In case of an accident, it is mandatory to conduct a magisterial inquiry, headed by local sub-divisional magistrate, and the inquiry report is must while settling the death claim of victims.
“Enquiry is must and it has been seen in most of the cases where driver is no more that the blame shifts on him,” he said.
“But there are several other issues and the gap between demand and supply is one of them,” he said and added that the demand and supply, not in terms of buses only, but staff shortages, less holidays for staff are also among the major reasons cited.
The HRTC bus that rolled down to a deep gorge at Kadharghat on Tuesday, nearly 60 km from here, claimed 21 lives, of which 19 people died on the spot and two others while being taken to hospital. The HRTC has claimed that the bus was technically fit to run on the roads.
HRTC Managing director RN Batta said that it was a 2011 model bus and completed a total travel of 3.5 lakh kilometers and no technical problem was reported by the driver before starting the journey.
He said that every accident has a separate theory behind it, so blaming one thing would not serve the purpose.
He has written a letter to the Association of State Road Transport Undertakings (ASRTU) for constituting a working group to study the road accidents. “I have written a letter to ASRTU and sought help from them to study the accident cases and the pattern,” he said while adding that a committee under executive director was also looking into the case studies of every accident.