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Lifeline for transport monopoly With HC setting aside govt notices, private transporters will continue to call the shots

May 30, 2018 05:32 AM

COURSTEY THE TRIBUNE MAY 30

Lifeline for transport monopoly
With HC setting aside govt notices, private transporters will continue to call the shots
Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29

The Punjab and Haryana High Court order, setting aside the notices issued to private transporters of the state, has taken the steam out of the much-hyped new transport policy of the Congress government aimed at ending the monopolistic trade practices in the transport sector.
The order has cheered the private transporter lobby, which includes politicians. Other than 200 odd licence holders, who had illegally extended the route permits beyond the permissible 24 km, all other transporters can go about their businesses as usual. The court has set aside the notices issued to them for the diversion and curtailment of routes; and for increasing or decreasing the number of trips on a route. It was in February this year that the notices were issued for cancelling over 12,500 stage carriage permits.
Since none of the transporters lose their permits for what the Transport Department termed as illegal and/or led to monopoly of only existing players in the sector, the government will not be in a position to offer new permits to any new entrant. A top official in the Transport Department told The Tribune that they would be writing to the Punjab Advocate General, asking him as to what needed to be done about the High Court order that had prevented the department from initiating action against those diverting routes, curtailing them or increasing and decreasing the number of trips based on passenger traffic.
The final order, which was pronounced on Monday, had taken the state transport authorities by surprise.
Officials pointed out that in order to curb “malpractices” of private transporters, the Congress government had announced a new transport policy.
Most of the private transporters divert their routes to take in maximum passengers (for example on the Chandigarh-Samrala route, a private transporter takes the Chandigarh-Kohara-Samrala route). They curtail routes to a point where the passenger traffic is maximum (on the Chandigarh-Balachaur route, the transporter will ply the bus till Ropar and then stop at Kathgarh). Also, they increase or decrease the number of trips on a route (with a private bus plying every two minutes on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar route during peak hours, the private transporter may choose not to take a trip if passenger count is less).
Interestingly, influential private transporters were given benefits earlier too when the new transport policy was notified. The share of route permits of State Transport Undertakings (STUs) on national highways was slashed to 50 per cent from 75 per cent. In case of the state highways and district roads, the share was slashed from 60 per cent to 40 per cent. Since many roads in the state are now classified as national highways, the share of the STUs will remain the same.
Those benefitting from court order
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Shiromani Akali Dal president and former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister who owns several transport companies, including Orbit Aviations and Indo-Canadian; he is considered the biggest player in the private transport sector in the state

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