Transport Department keeps age rule for school vehicles and higher tax in abeyance

Private school vans and autorickshaws will be back on the roads from Saturday as the Karnataka United School and Light Motor Vehicle Drivers Union called off its strike following negotiations with the Transport Department.

The union had gone on strike from Wednesday protesting against banning vehicles over 15 years old, insisting that they be allowed to ferry schoolchildren as long as they cleared the fitness test.

They had also demanded the same rate of road tax as those of school-owned vehicles.

Speaking to The Hindu, union president S. Shanmugam said Transport Department officials had agreed to postpone the implementation of the two rules for the time being.

“Transport officials said they were not rigid about the scrapping of vehicles that were more than 15 years old and that they would discuss with the Finance Department and the Chief Minister regarding the tax. Hence we decided to call off the strike and vans will be back on the roads from tomorrow (Saturday),” he said.

Meanwhile, District in-charge and Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy told reporters Friday evening, he had met the union members and urged them to call off the strike.

The union had claimed that as per a High Court order, vehicles over 15 years old could run with a valid fitness certificate issued by the respective RTOs. “I have asked them to submit a copy of the order to my office,” he added.

The union is also seeking reduction in the road tax, pointing out that the annual road tax for them was around Rs. 20,000, while vehicles owned by schools pay only around Rs. 2,000.

“We will take a call on this issue after discussing it with the Finance Department. We have also asked them to submit a representation in this regard to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah,” Mr. Reddy said.

Mr. Shanmugam said that another meeting will be held soon between the union and the Transport officials to resolve the contentious issues.

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