Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy has ordered the constitution of a high-level committee comprising senior IAS officers to probe into the cause of the bus mishap on the National Highway 44 at Palem in Mahabubnagar district.

At a meeting here on Friday with Transport Minister Botcha Satyanarayana and senior officials, he also asked the Crime Investigation Department (CID) to launch its investigation from the police side, into the accident that took 45 lives, including that of an infant. He directed officials to complete the process of DNA testing and handing over of the bodies to relatives within a week. Five other passengers escaped with injuries, while the driver and cleaner jumped out of the vehicle. The driver has confessed to the police that he fell asleep at the wheel and rammed the divider and the culvert near it.

The APSRTC has been asked to deploy as many luxury services as possible on high traffic routes from Hyderabad to Bangalore, Vijayawada, Tirupati, Rajahmundry, Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, Shirdi, Mumbai and Chennai. Mr. Satyanarayana told The Hindu that if the RTC could run more buses, people would prefer them to the private buses. “We were told how the private buses ply at speeds over 130 km per hour, while the RTC buses do not cross 75 kmph.”

The government is likely to announce an ex gratia of Rs.1 lakh to the families of each of the 45 victims. “I am told that each victim’s kin would get much more by way of third party claim. There were 17 young software engineers and insurance companies will consider their current earnings and calculate the loss. Their families will probably get anywhere upwards of Rs.50 lakh,” he said.