By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 18 Jun: At a meeting held at the Secretariat here, today, the State Cabinet approved a proposal to double the bus fares for private bus operators as well as transport corporation buses during the period of the Corona Pandemic. This would be subject to the condition of implementing physical distancing.
While this decision of the government is certain to punch a hole in the pockets of the common person, it has brought much sought relief for the private bus operators and the transport corporation. It may be recalled that operation of private as well as Transport Corporation buses have remained shut during the ongoing Corona pandemic lockdown. Due to this, the financial burden had increased on the Transport Corporation as salaries and other fixed expenditures have remained intact, while the crisis for the private bus operators was even greater. Many were forced to undergo a very harsh time during this period. It is pertinent to point out here that many bus operators purchase buses with bank loans. During the Corona lockdown period, while there was no income at all, the interest on loans kept on accruing, forcing some of the bus operators to even sell their buses. Although the decision to double the fares may be heavy on the pocket of the common person, it does come as relief for the bus operators.
The Cabinet decision mentions doubling of bus fares only during the Corona period and this would be the time when bus operators would have to operate under SOPs like physical distancing, etc., which would result in smaller number of passengers per trip. However, questions can be raised whether, instead of raising the bus fares, the government could not have considered other options such as waiver or reduction in Road Tax for the bus operators.
Government spokesperson Madan Kaushik informed the media about the decisions taken today by the Cabinet. In another important decision, the cabinet also decided to hand over the authority of fund management to the Chief Minister for arrangements of boarding and toilets, etc., for the devotees and seers at the Mahakumbh to be held in Haridwar next year.
Another important decision was approval of a proposal for simplification of guidelines under the Disaster Management Act. Under the simplified guidelines, construction of small bridges, laying of drinking water pipelines, construction and repair of check dams, school buildings, irrigation canals, and works to protect them would also fall in the ambit of the Act.
Under the ‘Mukhyamantri Swarozgar Yojana’, in the first phase, the State Government would bear the burden of 2 percent interest rate on loans to 50 thousand citizens for dairy operators, street vendors and small shopkeepers. These loans would be provided through the Cooperative Department.
Kaushik further disclosed that an ethanol plant with production capacity of 100 KLPD would be set up at Bajpur in district US Nagar in PPP mode for the Cooperative Sugar Mill located in Bajpur. The cabinet also approved certain amendments to the Cooperative Rules. Under the amended rules, a certain amount of money would be provided to the cooperative committees for training, etc., depending on their profits. Earlier, only a fixed amount of money was payable to the committees for training, etc.
Kaushik further stated that the circle rate of Rs 2 crore for allocation of 0.25 hectare land to the Bhimtal Kendriya Vidyalaya was also waived by the Cabinet.
A formal decision taken by the State Government was ratification of a recent amendment made by the Government of India regarding GST.
Under the Mukhyamantri Swarozgar Yojana, the state government would provide loans of up to 60 thousand rupees under the motorcycle taxi scheme through the Cooperative Department in the first phase to more than 20 thousand citizens for 2 years, Kaushik added.
A decision was taken that the state’s fiscal responsibility would be increased from 3 percent to 5 percent of GDP for budget management. This decision is likely to increase the fiscal deficit for the current year. Regulations for Uttarakhand regarding on demand transport facility were also approved. Now, taxis can be booked from mobile apps like Ola or Uber, etc., in the state also.