Punjab govt moves to overhaul transport sector
New Delhi: In an attempt to overhaul the state’s transportation architecture, the Punjab government on Wednesday outlined the draft of its new transport policy, while abolishing district transport offices (DTOs) and restructuring the much maligned transport department.
In what is being viewed as a crackdown against the transport business interests of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s family, the state cabinet took the tough decision to streamline the issuance of permits and licences across commercial and private transport vehicles.
“The cabinet decided that the state government will gradually increase the state transport undertakings’ share in the luxury bus service, currently controlled by the Badals’ bus services, to eventually make it state controlled. 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, thus eventually ending the private mafia control over these high-revenue bus routes,” Punjab chief minister’s office said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Badal couldn’t be immediately reached for his comments.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has been alleging business malpractices on the part of the Badal family. He also made it an issue in the run up to the state assembly elections which the Congress party won. Congress won 77 out of 117 seats in Punjab with a vote share 38.5%, defeating the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine in a three-cornered contest with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
“Once the scheme is implemented, permits of as many as 5432 buses indulging in extension/diversion of routes and another 6700 mini buses, besides 78 integral luxury coaches, will be cancelled and allotted afresh,” the statement said.
The much anticipated scheme aims to enforce fixed time slabs for buses and provides for equitable distribution of halting time at bus stands between the State Transport Undertaking (STU) and privately operated buses. Also, it ensures private bus operations at all times rather than being limited to profitable high traffic hours.
“It would also promote the use of technology to check unauthorized plying of buses, which results in huge evasion of Motor Vehicle Tax,” the statement added.
This comes at a time when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is exploring how it can leverage technology to set up a logistics architecture on the lines of Aadhaar.
Also, to usher in transparency, there will be a draw of lots for permits, if the eligible applications received for a particular route are more than the number of permits on offer. Also, to boost competition, no single private operator will be issued more than a quarter of permits on a particular route.
The SAD fought for political survival in Punjab in the face of growing anti-incumbency, where they were in power for two consecutive terms. Their second term was marred with allegations of corruption, nepotism and growing alienation among voters.
“Under the Draft Transport Scheme-2017, formulated in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Punjab & Haryana High Court and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court, will be implemented after eliciting feedback from the public for 30 days and being fine-tuned according to inputs received from the general public,” the statement said.
While doing away with DTOs, the registration of personal vehicles will be done by sub-divisional magistrates and driving licences will be issued by assistant transport officers at 32 automated driving test tracks in the state. For commercial vehicles, all work will be handled by 11 regional transport authority offices.