Kumraswamy’s statement comes even as students, who are protesting against the issue, threatened to call for a bandh.

HDK does U-turn on free bus passes says will consider for govt school students
news Politics Monday, July 23, 2018 - 18:41

Two days after he declared that there would be no free bus passes, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy decided to do a U-turn on Monday. He said that the state is considering giving free passes only to students belonging to government schools.

“I will hold a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) with concerned persons and take a call on the issue. We are thinking about giving free bus passes only to government school students. The problem is funding,” Kumaraswamy said.

His statement comes even as students, who are protesting against the issue, threatened to call for a bandh.

Citing lack of funds, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Saturday, confirmed that the state government will not implement the scheme to provide free bus passes for students.

On June 19, the ministers for the Transport and Education Departments had announced that the free bus pass scheme will be implemented and both the departments will share 25% of the total financial burden. This was after the Transport Department refused to take on the entire burden. The state government wanted to appeal to the Centre for the remaining money.

Kumaraswamy on Saturday had also said that he had never made a promise to implement such a scheme. The scheme was proposed in the 2017-18 budget by the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

On Saturday, several student unions staged a protest at Town Hall in Bengaluru. Schools and colleges in the state saw reduced attendance as some students did not attend classes after a bandh was called by the unions.

Students in the state say that they have to pay up to Rs 100 per day on the bus fare.

Student unions including All India Democratic Students Organisation (AIDSO), which helped organise the protest on Saturday plan to intensify protests against the state government.  

Concessional bus pass scheme was a long-standing demand of students in the state, with several even protesting over the issue.

While free bus passes were earlier restricted to students of SC/ST category, the Siddaramaiah government in February had announced that all students in the state will be able to avail the scheme.  

The newly-formed JD(S)-Congress coalition government had announced that all the schemes of the previous government will be continued.

However, in spite of the scheme figuring in the budget presented by then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in February, students have not received bus passes for the new academic year over a month after it began. It did not even figure in the budget presented by Kumaraswamy on July 5.

Pressure had been mounting on the state government to live up to its promise of continuing the schemes present in the previous budget.