In a 24-hour “Chaka Bandh” (ceasework) agitation, private bus owners in the unbroken Koraput region of Odisha protested the Monday Gandhi Jayanti launch of the Location-Accessible Multimodal Initiative (LAccMI), which would have provided a seamless public transportation network between gram panchayats and the capital city. Under the plan, over 1,000 buses would be used to connect every gram panchayats, block headquarters, and district headquarters in Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, and Malkangiri with important towns and business centers throughout the state. According to reports, it would be introduced in the first phase with two buses in each block in the unincorporated districts of Koraput, Gajapati, and Kalahandi.
“They are running this scheme by buying old vehicles from a Gujarat company. The private bus owners will suffer immense losses due to this scheme. The protest is being observed peacefully today only in undivided Koraput. We will launch a statewide agitation from October 10 if our demand is not fulfilled,” said president of Private Bus Owners’ Association, Malkangiri, Venkat Rao told the media.
Another demonstrator expressed their support for the LAccMI program but demanded to be included. Even during the Covid-19 epidemic, “the private bus owners’ organization was with the people and transported them. They now favor businesses with headquarters in Gujarat and Maharashtra. When the government decided to demolish 15-year-old cars, we also had to pay the EMI for new buses that were purchased, he added.
Earlier, the Transport Commissioner-cum-Chairman of the State Transport Authority (STA) had written to the general secretary of the association, saying that all RTOS will hold meetings with the concerned bus associations in their jurisdiction, and in case of clash of timings of buses of private operators with LAccMI bus, STA resolutions regarding grant of permit will be followed.
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