Govt U-turn on bus pass unfair: students

The men rode up and stopped him at 1.25 am. One of them held a knife to Sriram’s neck and demanded that he hand over all the valuables.

The latest addition to the government’s list of uncertain schemes, is the one of free bus passes for students. It has left the students in the state agitated.

While the budget of the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had promised free bus passes to all students in the state, it finds no mention in the current budget. However, the minister for primary education N Mahesh and transport minister D C Thamanna continue to give oral assurances.

Mahesh had previously mentioned that providing passes at concessional rates only to SC/ST students may be seen discriminatory. Hence, a proposal to provide bus passes to all was put forward.

Students from across the districts in Karnataka staged a protest against the coalition government for not fulfilling their demand for the free bus passes but diverting a lion’s share of the budget to waiving off the farmers’ loans.

According to the figures available with the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), North East Karnataka Transport Corporation (NEKRTC) and Northwest Karnataka Transport Corporation, as many as 19.60 lakh students avail bus passes every year. This is at an estimated cost of Rs 1,955 crore.

Currently, 50% of the cost is borne by the state while the KSRTC bears 25% and the students pay 25% of the price.

On Wednesday, a group of over 2,000 students staged a massive protest in the city asking the Kumaraswamy government to assure them that fress bus passes will be provided. A protest march was held from the Town Hall to Mysore Bank disrupting the traffic in the afternoon.

“Why was the assurance given in the first place if it could not be fulfilled. Even when we met the transport minister days before the budget, he had assured us that it would be announced in the budget,” said one of the protesters.

“If the government has spent all its money on giving waivers to farmers, it is unfair for other sections of the society. It is the same farmer’s children who are walking several miles to reach colleges as they cannot afford passes,” she added.

If free passes are given..

The state will have to set aside an estimated Rs 1,955 crores if free bus passes are to be provided to all students.

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Govt U-turn on bus pass unfair: students

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