Taking a big step in protecting the interests of State road transport corporations (RTCs), the Karnataka government has decided to nationalise all bus routes in the State for the exclusive operation of RTCs, while allowing only “existing, valid and in operation” private bus permits to continue.
A draft notification issued on Friday by the Transport Department implies that the KSRTC, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Northwest KRTC and Northeast KRTC can offer services on new routes to the exclusion of private operators.
It seeks to cancel all the 21 route nationalisation ‘schemes’ of the KSRTC and bring in only one ‘Karnataka scheme’. A scheme means identification of routes or a district for the exclusive operation of the KSRTC as provided by the Motor Vehicles Act. Aggrieved persons can file objections to the draft notification within 30 days from its publication.
Two reasons appear to have compelled the government to come out with the new scheme. The T.M. Vijay Bhaskar Committee, appointed by the government following the Supreme Court direction in December last, has held that 3,225 permits that overlap/intersect with nationalised routes issued to private operators were illegal. He had recommended cancellation of those permits. The aggrieved operators have now moved the High Court against this recommendation. Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy told The Hindu that the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill 2015, of the Union government, if enacted, would compel the RTCs to compete with private operators. Since the RTCs in south India were robust, the governments intended to protect them. When routes in the entire State were nationalised, there would be no scope for entry of other operators, he said.
KSRTC Staff and Workers Federation general secretary H.V. Ananthasubba Rao has welcomed the move. KSRTC Managing Director Rajender Kumar Kataria said the RTCs were geared to meet any additional demand as they had spare buses.