Over two-thirds of RTC buses to be on ‘election duty’

Plans for holiday travel during the first week of May or even an overnight journey to vote in the Assembly elections might go awry as a large number of buses belonging to State Road Transport Corporations (SRTCs) as well as private operators will be used for election work on May 4 and 5.

More than two-thirds of the fleet of the four SRTCs in Karnataka might have to be provided for poll duty, leaving only a skeletal service.

The absence of buses was not as severe during the 2008 general election since it was conducted in three phases and not all the SRTCs were required to provide buses at one go. However, since the 2013 election is being held in one phase, all the four SRTCs — the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), the North Western KRTC and North Eastern KRTC — will have to provide a major portion of their fleet for election-related work, said N. Manjunatha Prasad, Managing Director, KSRTC.

Mr. Prasad told The Hindu that requisition for buses are being made to respective divisions of the RTCs by deputy commissioners of the districts concerned and, hence, the exact number of buses to be used for poll duty was not immediately available. However, going by the figures of the 2008 polls, where the corporations had provided about 10,000 buses, this time the requirement could be more, he said.

According to Mr. Prasad, buses would have to be made available to the respective returning officers at 8 a.m. on May 4 and would be back only on the night of May 5. Besides ferrying polling material and personnel, the buses would also be required for transporting paramilitary and State police personnel on election duty, he said.

Voters in rural areas where polling stations are located far away from their residences would be particularly affected by the unavailability of buses on the one hand and prohibition on mass ferrying of voters to polling stations by political parties.

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