Vijayawada: The Government of Arunachal Pradesh has directed all the district transport officers (DTOs) to suspend registration of buses and other commercial and tourist vehicles from applicants from other states until the controversy on registration of private travel buses of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telangana State (TS) is resolved.
The instructions have hit travel lobbyists from the two Telugu states. They are requesting the transport departments of AP and TS not to initiate any action against them.
The controversy is the result of a decision by Kesineni Travels to withdraw its services from the alleged ‘unfair’ game being played by AP Transport department.
“The registration of commercial vehicles, buses and other tourist vehicles of the applicants originating from other states should be suspended till the matter at hand is resolved,” Arunachal Pradesh’s Transport Commissioner Bulang Siram has given strict instructions.
An action taken report, including all details, should be submitted before June 1, the commissioner added.
He has directed the DTOs of the state to submit a status report over the illegal registration of tourist vehicles, following a complaint from Machilipatnam MP Konakalla Narayana Rao.
A majority of buses plying in TS and AP are registered in North-Eastern states, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
As per Mr Siram’s directions, owners of around 700 buses received notices from various deputy transport commissioners of Arunachal Pradesh, to appear before the authorities, with the registered vehicles for physical verification.
In his letter to the DTOs on March 31, the Arunachal Pradesh Transport Comm-issioner directed them to inquire into the matter thoroughly and submit a detailed report, as the MP alleged that tourist vehicles registered in Arunachal Pradesh have violated the laid-down safety norms of the relevant provisions of the CMV Acts 1988, and Rules 1989.
“It has also been contended that registration of the vehicles were made without physical verification, and proper verification of the addresses of the owners and operators as to whether they actually reside temporarily or permanently in the state,” the transport commissioner observed.
While doing the same, the commissioner asked the DTOs whether the provisions of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873, were followed or not.
Fate of 1,000 buses hangs in balance
In violation to Rule 128 and Rule 85 of the Central Motor Vehicles (CMV) Act, tourist vehicles are plying in states other than the home state of registration. If the Arunachal Pradesh government initiates stringent action, around 1,000 buses belonging to Orange, Kaveri and other prominent travels will have to stop their services in the two states.
The APSRTC authorities have been keenly watching the developments, as these measures would certainly help RTCs to improve their finances.
“The alleged laxity on registration of such vehicles on your part without proper verification of vehicles owners and vehicles is a matter of concern and has been viewed seriously,” according to Arunachal Pradesh transport commissioner Bolung Siram.
He suggested the DTOs to direct all tourist vehicles such as sleeper coaches, buses and commercial vehicles operating in other states, along with the owners and operators registered by respective DTOs, to report back to them on or before May 31 for physical verification of safety features and issuance of fitness certificates.
Interestingly, the AP and TS Transport departments have not initiated any such action against any bus operator so far.
When it comes to the tax structures of the Telugu states and Arunachal Pradesh, it is a known fact that Arunachal Pradesh Transport department collects only Rs 18,000 as annual tax for these vehicles, whereas in both the Telugu States, each bus has to pay Rs 3,675 per seat, which comes to around Rs 1,80,000, as a quarterly tax per bus. That means, for the four quarters in the year, each bus has to pay Rs 7,20,000 per year in AP and the same amount in TS also.
If the buses operate in Karnataka, the taxes come to around Rs 8,00,000 per bus per year. For example, if a bus operates its service from Bengaluru to Hyderabad, it has to touch Andhra Pradesh, and in that way the operators has to pay Rs 22 lakh and odd per year. This, however, is not happening since at least two third of the private buses are registered in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and other north eastern states. They pay only Rs 18,000 towards annual tax.