Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: The All Odisha Private Bus Owners’ Association today decided not to ply buses in the Green Zones citing that it will be unprofitable and unfeasible to operate with 50 per cent seat occupancy as stipulated by the COVID19 lockdown guidelines.

Clarifying its stance, treasurer of the association, Barada Acharya said though Odisha government was earlier apprised about the demands of bus owners, the notification issued by the government on plying of buses has not addressed the concerns raised by them.

"We had a meeting a couple of days back where it was unanimously decided that it's not feasible to ply buses with 50 per cent seating as the buses will run only from 7 AM to 7 PM while owners will have to bear full salary of employees and pay taxes and insurance premiums," said Acharya.

He further said that in line with the protocol for train passengers, the government should come up with some measures to test & screen the people boarding buses.

If any employee of a bus gets affected by COVID-19, the burden of his/her family will also be on the bus owners, said Acharya.

"Transportation comes under essential services and if the government books us under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) when we go on protest, why shouldn't we then get the benefits that others are getting under the act. Bus staff should also be insured," added Acharya.

Meanwhile, Odisha Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera said that the government has taken note of the concerns of the association and will soon come up with measures.

“Certain steps which address the concerns of bus operators have been proposed and these measures will be announced soon after the approval of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,” said Behera.