Beating Badals’ buses gets special mention as Punjab cabinet okays transport policy
The family of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, and his son and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal, has the biggest share of the transport business pie in the state, through directly owned companies such as Dabwali Transport and Orbit Aviation that have a fleet of luxury buses.punjab Updated: Jul 06, 2017 09:26 IST
The Punjab cabinet on Wednesday okayed the much-awaited transport policy while also restructuring the department. It decided that the government will gradually increase the state-run transport undertakings’ share in the luxury segment, “currently controlled by the Badals’ bus services”, to eventually make it “state-controlled”.
The family of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, and his son and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal, has the biggest share of the transport business pie in the state, through directly owned companies such as Dabwali Transport and Orbit Aviation that have a fleet of luxury buses. The two companies also have indirect stakes in firms of Sukhbir’s close associates, Lakhvir Singh and Jagpal Singh.
“The share of State Transport Authority, Punjab Roadways and PRTC (Pepsu Road Transport Corporation) in the inter-state, point-to-point super-integral coach service on contract carriage basis will be increased gradually,” a spokesperson said after the cabinet meeting chaired by CM Capt Amarinder Singh.
A special task force of the vigilance department will also be established for a crackdown on all illegally plying buses, over a period of two months, to weed out all such buses in a phased manner, said the spokesperson.
The draft transport scheme will be finalised and implemented after eliciting feedback from the public for 30 days and being finetuned according to inputs received.
Permits afresh, fighting monopoly
Once the policy is implemented within three months, permits of 5,432 buses indulging in extension or diversion of routes; and 6,700 mini-buses, besides 78 integral luxury coaches, will be cancelled and allotted afresh.
In case of private operators, not more than 25% of the permits on a particular route shall be issued to one entity. Permits issued by the state government that were valid immediately prior to the coming into force of this scheme, shall be renewed for their balance period.
Once granted, there will be no extension, or diversion, or curtailment of the route mentioned on the permit, except when a bus stand is shifted to a new location or a route is altered. An operator may surrender his permit by way of notice of three months, or payment in lieu of notice of total dues payable for three months.
For buses running on rural roads, tax shall be a lump sum of Rs 30,000 per annum, which shall increase 5% every year.
Restructuring: New post and more
Besides doing away with the system of district transport officers (DTOs), the new policy will provide for registration of personal vehicles by sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs), with driving licences to be issued by use of 32 automated driving test tracks by the assistant road transport officers (ARTOs).
These 10 ARTOs will be posted in the office of secretary, RTA, and one each on the 32 tracks. They will exercise the powers of registering and licensing depending on the office of posting.
The new post of secretary will be created at Bathinda (also covering Mansa, Muktsar); Ferozepur (also for Faridkot and Fazilka); Patiala (for Fatehgarh Sahib too); Sangrur (for Barnala too); Gurdaspur (for Pathankot too); Amritsar (for Tarn Taran too); Ludhiana (covering Moga too); Mohali (to cover Rupnagar too); Jalandhar (for Kapurthala too); and Hoshiarpur (also to cover Nawanshahr, also called SBS Nagar).
The secretaries will be tasked with issuance of registration certificates, driving licenses for transport vehicles, conductor licences, private service vehicle permits, and contract carriage permits; besides supervision and checking of pollution check centres, enforcement duties with respect to tax collections and traffic/permit/route violations, and motor vehicle tax collection from buses.