Owners of 4,000-odd buses plying in Uttarakhand will approach the high court against a state government decision to issue permit to small vehicles.
They said the move will affect their business, lead to increase in fare and potentially see a spike in road accidents in the hill state.
“Already, shared autos and cabs are flouting norms. Providing them stage carriage permit would mean an end to city buses,” Vijay Vardhan Dandriyal, the president of Dehradun city bus association, told HT.
“We will protest against the government and are likely to knock doors of the high court by end of this week,” Dandriyal said.
The state cabinet, during a meeting on November 14, decided to provide stage carriage permits to smaller vehicles.
According to the Motor Vehicle Act, stage carriage means a vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than six passengers excluding the driver for hire or reward either for the whole journey or for stages of the journey. The act also said vehicles with more than six passenger capacity shall be provided stage carriage permit.
Transport minister Nav Prabhat, however, insisted on seeking approval from the central government allowing stage carriage permit to cars and shared autos.
“The Motor Vehicle Act rules should be followed particularly in a hill state like Uttarakhand. Allowing stage carriage permit to small vehicles would mean increase in fare and chances of accidents,” said Pankaj Gupta, the secretary of the city bus association.
The capital city alone has more than 1,000 city buses while nearly 3,000 ply in Nainital, Ramnagar, Jaspur, Rishikesh, Haridwar and other places.
Political analysts say the protest might act in favour of the BJP in the poll-bound state as the opposition party is likely to get support from the city bus association. City buses are used for campaigning ahead polls and transportation of voters during election days.
Ajay Bhatt, the state BJP unit president, said a decision to open new routes was welcome, but public transport shall be engaged as per law. “The Motor Vehicle Act allows 40-seat buses in hilly terrains. It was decided for a reason. We should stick to the act.”
Surendra Kumar, the media in-charge of chief minister Harish Rawat, said: “We will look into the interest of city buses as well. I am sure we will be able to resolve the matter.”