Andhra Pradesh Transport Department has cracked down on Diwakar Travels by suspending permits for 31 buses for flouting of regulations. According to Joint Transport Commissioner for Road Safety Prasada Rao, eight buses run by Diwakar Travels – which is owned by the family of TDP leader and ex-MP JC Diwakar Reddy – were seized in Anantapur district on Wednesday evening. Apart from these eight, permits have been cancelled for 23 more buses as of Thursday.
The buses were found to be disregarding several regulations, said Prasada Rao. “There were multiple issues. Some of them had been overloading passengers beyond the permitted limit, some had additional number of seats for which tax hadn’t been paid, some were not adhering to prescribed timings of operation, some were not displaying the ownership details on the bus properly,” he said.
All the buses were stage carriers. They were plying between Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka on fixed routes of 200-300 kilometres back and forth.
The Transport Department has registered a case in the matter. “We will be very tough in such cases. Even if we receive information about irregularities in any other buses, severe action will be taken,” said Prasada Rao.
In February 2017, a bus run by Diwakar Travels met with an accident in which 11 people were killed. The bus had plunged into a culvert on the Krishna River, near Vijayawada. Back then, Diwakar Reddy was the MP from Anantapur.
An investigation had shown that the bus had violated the Motor Transport Workers Act (MTW), 1961, by not registering with either Andhra Pradesh or Telangana. However, the police did not file a case against Diwakar Travels, but rather booked the driver who had also died in the accident, triggering protests from the political parties in the opposition at the time.
In June 2017, the AP Transport and Labour Departments gave a clean chit to the travel company, a decision which was questioned by the Hyderabad High Court. The Labour Department eventually admitted that the company had indeed violated norms.