In what could be good news for the Covid ravaged private transport sector in Odisha, the State Government is planning to waive tax for private bus owners in the State.
Steps are being taken to ensure normalisation of bus services post lockdown, stated Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera on Wednesday.
“Currently, private buses are plying in as many as 20 Category A districts. Decision regarding plying of buses in 10 Category B districts will be taken soon,” said Behera.
He said along with waiver of taxes, other facilities are going to be extended to the public transporters as incentive.
Earlier last week the Bus Owners’ Association had demanded before the government for tax waiver in view of the complete lull and losses in business on account of the protracted lockdowns. They had also demanded that the State government should provide them with a yearly interest-free loan of Rs one lakh per a bus and other financial assistance to each staff.
They had threatened to halt bus services across the State over non-fulfilment of their demands.
According to government sources, the State Government will take decision regarding unlock in due time for which required data is being shared with the authorities.
It is worth mentioning that the strong fleet of around 14,000 private buses in Odisha play a major role in public transport in the State. Following suspension of their operation in view of the pandemic situation since last year, not only the bus owners, but thousands of staff dependent on the service have been undergoing a harrowing time, like any other sector. The worst affected are the average citizens who solely depend on this service to commute to distant places for work and business.
Meanwhile, the Director of Health Services in Odisha, Bijay Mohapatra said that the government might take a decision for the next
unlocking process after a review of the present pandemic situation.
“Covid situation across the State will be considered while announcing the next phase of unlock. Steps are being taken to bring Covid infection levels further down in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar,” he said.