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Pvt school vans off road on day 2

Bangalore, June 20, 2013, DHNS:
Private school van drivers talk to parents at Padmanabhanagar in Bangalore on Thursday. DH Photo/Srikanta Sharma R.

All private vehicles ferrying students to school remained off the road for the second consecutive day on Thursday, an upshot of the tussle between the transport department and vehicle owners.

Parents, however, seemed better prepared to face the crisis on Thursday. But gridlocks were reported at many junctions.

Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy on Thursday reiterated that the government would strictly implement the 13 guidelines issued by the Supreme Court on private vehicles ferrying school students. Reddy said it was not possible to relax the norm prohibiting use of vehicles over 15 years old, as it was the question of children’s safety.

Speaking to reporters,  Reddy said the government was following the directions of the Supreme Court. “The rules were passed by the previous government in January. Considering the request by owners of these vehicles to provide some grace period to implement them, the government had given time till May 30. That deadline has expired and we have decided to proceed,” he said.

The minister said he would speak with the chief minister about road tax for vehicles used for dual purpose, ferrying children and other commercial use. “It is a matter of tax and we will have to seek the opinion of the finance department and the chief minister,” he said.

Meanwhile, the vehicles will remain off the road on Friday as well. Karnataka United School and Light Motor Vehicle Drivers’ Union president Shanmugam P S said: “We have been trying to get in touch with the minister and till now we have not been able to do so.

The government’s refusal to consider the issue of old vehicles has not been communicated to us. The Supreme Court guideline being quoted does not exist. We would be able to take a stand only after we directly communicate with the minister.”

The drivers are also seeking immediate tax relief.  Now, an annual tax of Rs 22, 000 is levied on a “Tempo”  van ferrying students. For a Maruti van, it is Rs 6,000 every quarter.
However, school-owned “Tempos” and vans pay Rs 1,500 and Rs 600 per annum respectively, said Shanmugam.

Many parents were in favour of meeting the van drivers’ demands. “If the government is levying such a huge amount of tax, we want the benefits of it to be visible. The civic amenities in the City are in a poor state which is a reflection of poor utilisation of tax payers’ money,” said Sowmya Joshi, whose child studies at Carmel School.

The parents said the government should take a decision soon, keeping in view of the safety of the children.


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