Most of them do not have a proper list of commuters in the bus

At around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, a private vehicle of the Hyderabad-registered Meghana Travels was seized at the Garikapadu check-post at the Krishna-Nalgonda border, as part of a special drive to curb flouting of norms by vehicle operators launched by the Transport Department, Krishna region.

The vehicle was intercepted for allowing cloth material in the luggage storage box affixed to the left side of the vehicle. “A case has been booked against the vehicle operator. On papers, it was a contract carriage bus, which is not supposed to carry any material,” Deputy Transport Commissioner Ch. Shivalingaiah, said on Wednesday.

The violation by the vehicle operator assumes significance in the wake of the ghastly accidental bus fire tragedy in the wee hours of Wednesday in Mahbubnagar district in which 45 passengers were charred to death.

Conflicting reports

Conflicting reports on what exactly caused the fire have been doing rounds.

While it is widely believed that the fuel tank of the vehicle caught fire after it rammed a culvert when the bus was moving at great speed in an attempt to overtake a car ahead, it is also being said that presence of crackers or some other flammable material in the luggage storage box could have precipitated the flames.

Violations of this nature are commonplace. Besides carrying excess number of passengers, most of them do not have a proper list of commuters in the bus.

“We also seized two more buses on Sunday at Gannavaram and at Varadhi for such violations,” said Mr. Shivalingaiah. The number of contract carriage buses operating as stage carriage buses is menacingly high, admits the DTC.

Private inter-State bus services operate with impunity exploiting the thin line differentiating contract carriage from stage carriage services. By definition, contract carriage is a vehicle engaged for a journey between two points for carriage of persons hiring it and has no right to take in other passengers en route.

On the contrary, a stage carrier operates between two destinations irrespective of any prior contract and passengers board the vehicle along the route and pay fares for the distance travelled. A contract carriage is not entitled to issue tickets.

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