July 17, 2019
Kochi: Kerala, claims to be fully literate, is turning blind eye to the harsh treatment meted out to students by many private bus operators.
Even as orders have been issued by the government to treat students with dignity on par with other passengers, the bus crew normally does not allow them to occupy seats when those paying for full tickets are standing.
Many buses even skip stops where a large number of students wait to board buses in the morning and evening.
A student of sixth standard was forced to disembark from the bus for not paying full fare in Kottayam.
Kerala High Court had the other day issued direction to ensure that students are picked safely from stops and allowed to occupy vacant seats.
The directive to the police and the transport department was on a plea by bus operators seeking to do away with the concession prevailing in the State for students.
The court observed that enforcement officers under the transport and police departments should carry out inspection in decoy to find out if there was any discrimination.
The court also directed to ensure that the two doors of the moving buses are locked.
The court had issued a direction in this regard, following which the transport department had conducted statewide screening as part of implementing the order.
Sources in the transport department said efforts had been taken to ensure that court directives were implemented.
Drives are conducted and those found violating the order are booked and action is taken.
Last year, Private Bus Owners’ Coordination Committee had unilaterally announced its decision to stop student concessions from June 1, 2018.
The committee said the increasing operational charges had made it difficult for operators to offer concession. The committee had cited a 1966 High Court order that supported their stand.
But the government refused to buy their arguments, following which they moved the court.
Separately, a parent felt the argument that if operational costs went up, they increased rates accordingly. Also private bus owners were buying multiple buses every year only because they were minting money, the parent said.
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