As part of his government’s flagship scheme ‘Ghar Ghar Rozgar Yojana’, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh will on Wednesday grant mini bus permits, mostly to unemployed youth. While the beneficiaries are all praise for the initiative, they are equally concerned about rising prices of fuel, particularly diesel, on which the buses will run.
A resident of Devigarh, Simranjit Singh who comes from Amarinder Singh’s home district and is one of the few who will be getting the permit through video conference, expressed concern over the increase in fuel prices.
“Last year, when I applied for the permit, diesel was priced at around Rs 68 a litre. Now, it costs costs more than Rs 80 per litre. It is all due to policies of the governments,” said Simranjit, without specifying if he meant state or the central government.
The 30-year-old who comes from agriculturist family and who did an Industrial Training Institute course after 10+2 said he was also mulling whether to go for a new bus or get one in running condition. “It will depend on the budget,” he added.
Hailing from Salempur village in Fatehgarh district, 43-year-old Parminder Singh, in an apparent reference to Centre, said, “It would be good if government reduced taxes on fuel.”
He, however, defended high taxes imposed by the Punjab government on fuel. “Punjab nu aamdan de sources ghat aa (Punjab has limited resources of revenue),” he added.
Harpreet Singh (23) from Bhagwan Colony located between Nabha and Lahoran Kalan village in Patiala district also flagged the issue of rising fuel prices but hoped that they will come down once the Covid situation eases. “There has to be some income source (for State). It (fuel prices) will normalise when things get better. As compared to Rajasthan, the fuel in Punjab is cheaper by around Rs 10 per litre,” said Harpreet, who worked as a salesman for a sports goods shop for around three months and drew a salary of Rs 5000 a month a few months ago. Harpreet said his father who worked as a “private driver” motivated him to apply for the mini bus permit.
Nineteen-year-old Gurmanjot Singh from Udowali Kalan in Gurdaspur district is all praise for government initiative. “Private transport has become so costly due to increase in fuel prices. So, people would opt for public transport,” said Gurmanjot, who did his 10+2 from a school in Kotli Surat Malhi in Gurdaspur district.
A Punjab transport department official, wishing not be be named, said around 3100 new mini bus permits had been issued before Punjab and Haryana High Court declared those invalid. The official said the Supreme Court upheld the decision of Punjab and Haryana High Court and the permits had been declared invalid since 2012.
Meanwhile, Mini Bus Operators Association Tuesday opposed new permits to unemployed youths. The members of the association protested against the “Punjab government’s policy of granting new permits by cancelling about 7,000 old permits already running.”
“ We have demanded from Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh that before giving 5,000 new licenses, the government should think about the old ones. A policy should be framed,” said former head of the Mini Bus Operators Association, Jatinder Agra.
However, the Punjab Transport official said, “Around 3100 permits were cancelled on the directions of the court. They died their own death.”
“The CM said we need to give employment to the youth since these routes had to be operationlised,” said the official, adding that “among the 3100 odd new permits more than 100 were allotted to existing operators.”