Tribune News Service
Phagwara, October 16
Seventy mini-bus operators, who gathered at a resort here today, have demanded that the state government should exempt them from all taxes in view of the losses they had suffered owing to the Covid pandemic.
The mini-bus operators led by Jarnail Singh Garhdiwala had also written to Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi stating that owing to the financial crunch, they were unable to pay taxes to the state government.
The mini-bus operators said on October 6 when they met Transport Minister Amarinder Singh Raja Warring to discuss the issue, he had assured them of relief, but transport officials were acting against them and stopping their buses. The mini bus operators said they were upset over action taken against them by officials concerned.
Garhdiwala said, “Diesel price in the pre-lockdown period was Rs74 per litre. It has now increased to Rs96 per litre. Earlier, a bus, which covered a distance of 100 km, incurred an expenditure of Rs5,400 on fuel, which has now increased to Rs10,000. Even rates of lubricants have increased manifold. There has been no corresponding hike in bus fares, due to which mini bus operators are bearing losses.”
“Even insurance companies have not offered any relief. Instead, there has been a steady increase in insurance premium. An owner pays Rs80,000 towards annual insurance of 52-seater bus,” mini-bus operators added. For political gains, the state government had announced free travel for women, which had further reduced their income, said mini-bus operators.
“To add to our woes, various private companies maintaining bus stands have started levying a higher adda fee. The adda fee at some bus stands is even higher than the motor vehicle tax deposited in the state exchequer,” lamented Garhdiwala.
Quoting an instance Garhdiwala said, “Earlier, the adda fee levied on a bus was Rs50, which has now increased to Rs95. No adda fee is levied on Punjab Roadways buses and their burden is also shifted on private bus operators.”
“Mini bus operators are even ignored while setting time tables. Companies with political affiliations are preferred,” said Garhdiwala.
The mini-bus operators demanded that they be exempted from taxes due from March 2020 to March 2022, the time table be revised without giving any preferences, writing permit numbers on all private and government buses should be mandatory and fuel subsidy of Rs30 per litre be given to them.
Buses impounded by the Transport Department be released at the earliest or else they would have to lodge a protest, mini-bus operators added. Mini-bus operators have also demanded that the motor vehicle tax should be reduced to 50 paise per km as they are already paying a huge amount as VAT on diesel.
Among those, who attended the meeting, include Shubhkarman Singh Brar, Harinder Singh, Narpinder Singh, Paramjit Singh Deol and Jasvir Singh Raja.
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