Updated: October 7, 2021 1:04:42 pm
The Punjab transport department on Wednesday impounded more than a dozen private buses, including three owned by the family members of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and seven by his close aides, citing non-deposit of special road tax and permit-related irregularities.
Two buses of Orbit Transport and one of Rajdhani, run by companies owned by the Badals, were impounded by the respective regional transport authorities (RTAs) in Bathinda and Ludhiana.
Four buses of New Deep, the company run by Akali leader from Gidderbaha Hardeep Singh Dimpy Dhillon, were impounded – two each in Bathinda and Faridkot.
Bathinda RTA Balwinder Singh said the action was taken after operators of the buses “could not produce documents relating to tax and permits”.
Three buses of Jhujhar, owned by the Badals’ aide Gurdip Singh, were also impounded – two in Faridkot and one in Ludhiana.
A bus each of Libra and Nagpal transport and two buses belonging to Baba Budha were impounded in Ludhiana and Amritsar.
Speaking about the crackdown, Punjab Transport Minister Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said, “My only mission is to end the transport mafia in the state. I will not let any illegal bus ply on the road.”
Dimpy Dhillon admitted that his company had defaulted on paying tax, but added that the lockdown due to Covid-19 and subsequent restrictions made it difficult for the bus operators to pay taxes. “After the lockdown, diesel rates increased, fare remained the same and there were restrictions not to allow passengers more than half of the capacity. We had requested the government when Captain Amarinder Singh was the chief minister to waive off the tax, or at least reduce it by fifty per cent. The finance minister and then transport minister had agreed to our concern. But, after that there has been a change of guard in the Congress government,” said Dhillon.
He said that if buses were to be impounded for non-payment of taxes, the “entire fleet of private buses in Punjab” would be seized. Dhillon added that “Had Warring ensured similar action against buses run by Congress leaders as well, we would have no issues with it”. “Warring was acting to end transport and not the transport mafia,” Dhillon added.
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