Updated: May 12, 2021 1:42:59 am
The State Transport Authority of Tamil Nadu has collected a penalty of more than Rs 38 lakh from private omni bus operators in the past two days for over-charging passengers.
After the state government imposed a lockdown three days ago, scores of migrant workers and others rushed to return to their native places. Though government buses were operating at full capacity, passengers who wished to travel to regions far away opted for private buses.
As per the official release from the state transport department, from May 8 to May 10, senior officials involved in inspection found 304 private omni buses violating the norms and charging high ticket prices. The department has collected a fine of Rs 38,12,990 for flouting the rules. A total of 25 buses were seized for violating the Motor Vehicles Act.
Two days ago, scores of migrant workers were seen protesting at the omni bus stand at Gandhipuram, Coimbatore, demanding buses to their hometowns. This took place after the authorities seized some buses that didn’t have the state permit and were carrying more than the allowed number of passengers. For instance, a bus which was supposed to carry 36 passengers was found accommodating more than 100 passengers. The passengers were guest workers returning to Bihar.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, A Anbalagan, the general secretary of All Omnibus Owners And Operators Association, said that such incidents happen ‘due to the greed of intermediate agents’.
“We received some complaints from passengers that a few operators were over-charging. We immediately contacted those operators and asked them to return the amount to passengers. Many of these vehicles that were caught by the officials didn’t have proper documents. The government has been continuously instructing us not to overcharge or carry more passengers than the permit. Despite these warnings, incidents like the one in Coimbatore occur, due to certain agents who convince passengers they can reach their hometowns this way. The migrant workers agree as they feel tickets in this case will be cheaper. Two passengers were sharing one berth. Such agents are found in every district and because of them, we are getting the bad name,” he said.
A senior official in the State Transport Department also blamed corrupt officials who allow omni buses till the check-posts. “We have asked the government to strengthen vigil at all check-posts to avoid such incidents. But a few officers are allowing the buses to run, thus giving the agents the go-ahead to act in an illegal and improper manner,” he said.
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