BHUBANESWAR: The State Transport Authority (STA) has directed Regional Transport Officers (RTOs) to crack down on private buses which are running as stage carriers without valid permits on long-distance intra-State as well as inter-State routes.
Most of the owners of these private buses, who operate the vehicles clandestinely, have been using tourist bus permits to ply on these routes thereby causing loss to the State-run Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) which is trying to rejuvenate and expand its operations.
The directive came after Transport and Commerce Minister Ramesh Majhi was apprised of such illegal practice at a meeting by the OSRTC in a recent meeting.
It was pointed out that several buses were found plying in Bhubaneswar-Berhampur, Bhubaneswar-Koraput-Nabarangpur and Bhubaneswar-Jeypore-Malkangiri routes. In Bhubaneswar-Kolkata route too, similar practice is adopted by the unscrupulous elements.
In undivided Koraput alone, 25 private buses were found to be operating through Andhra Pradesh which bleeds the State-run corporation.
Interestingly, all this has been taking place right under the nose of local Motor Vehicle Department and police. While many buses are operating without valid permission, quite a few take the tourist permit route. As per norms, a tourist bus necessitates a permit from the RTO apart from reporting to the local police station about details of the passengers.
However, these private operators not only hoodwink the regulation but are allowed to get away as they are issued tourist permits on a regular basis. This not only results in loss to the exchequer but also burdens the tax-payer by breeding unhealthy competition.
After OSRTC CMD Sudhansu Sarangi raised the matter, the Department has asked the enforcement wings of Bhubaneswar, Ganjam, Rayagada, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri and Kalahandi to clamp down on these illegal operators and book them as per the Motor Vehicle Act.
On its part, the State-owned PSU has started the move for launching operations on inter-State routes to Hyderabad, Kolkata, Jameshdpur, Visakhapatnam and Raipur. The process for procuring Volvo and Scania buses are nearing finalisation, Sarangi said.
In fact, inter-State operations will require signing of bilateral agreements with neighbouring States such as AP, Telangana, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh so that the OSRTC buses do not have to bear double taxation. For years together, the bilateral MoUs have not been signed.