Denying that the RTA had woken up to the violations by private carriers only after the accident, Transport Minister Botcha Satyanarayana said inspections were a continuous process

The Transport Department has intensified inspection of private buses after the ghastly accident involving a Hyderabad-bound Volvo bus near Mahbubnagar brought to light several violations of norms.

These resulted in booking 601 cases for various violations and seizure of 346 buses since the accident occurred on October 30, said Transport Minister Botcha Satyanarayana here on Wednesday.

He said a case has been booked against the owner of the Volvo bus, J.C. Uma Reddy, under provisions of the RTA Act though it was leased to Bangalore-based operator Shakeel Ahmed who runs Jabbar Travels.

“The RTA is looking into the lapses that resulted in the accident while the CB-CID probe has commenced. In addition to the preliminary inquiry, senior IAS officers were instructed to conduct a detailed inquiry into the incident,” he said.

Three inquiries were on, including two ordered by the Centre. The National Road Authority was also looking into road engineering aspects at the accident spot. The preliminary report attributed the cause of the accident to driver’s negligence and over-speeding, he added.

Denying that the RTA had woken up to the violations by private carriers only after the accident, the Minister said inspections were a continuous process. But from now on, private buses would be seized straight away for flouting norms and illegal operations instead of imposing compounding fee. The department would write to the Centre for provision of speed governors even in private buses with national permits.

It was also considering increasing safety awareness in Volvo buses due to frequent accidents involving those buses, he said.

Mr. Satyanarayana disclosed that out of the 45 persons who died in the accident, the bodies of 38 had been identified through DNA tests and 31 handed over to relatives. A final decision on payment of ex-gratia was not yet taken though the deceased would get insurance ranging from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 70 lakh based on age, profession etc.

‘Fare hike inevitable’

Referring to the recent bus fare hike, Mr. Satyanarayana said that the decision became inevitable because of several rounds of hike in diesel price. The revised fare was expected to net about Rs. 450 crore to the Corporation and partially set off its losses.

He said the RTC had suffered a loss of Rs. 500 crore in the last fiscal while its accumulated losses stood at Rs. 3,500 crore and its borrowings stood at Rs. 4,500 crore.