The budget in February promised a ‘concessional bus pass’ scheme to all students from primary to postgraduate level. 

Ktaka students call for bandh over govt delay in issuing concessional bus passes
news Transportation Wednesday, July 18, 2018 - 08:18

Students in schools and colleges in Karnataka are planning a bandh on July 21 as they are yet to receive their concessional bus passes for the academic year more than a month after it began. Students are spending up to Rs. 100 in commuting to schools and college on a daily basis. 

Sitara, an M.Sc student at Bengaluru University said that many students were hit by the lack of bus passes in this academic year. Students held a protest at Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru on July 11 voicing their opinions. "I travel from Rajarajeshwari Nagar to our university everyday. My friends travel from places in the city like Whitefield, Electronic City and even from places like Kolar, Chikballapur. They are being forced to spend hundreds of rupees everyday on travel," Sitara said. 

Concessional bus passes were a long-standing demand of students and student unions in the state and has seen several protests. At the forefront of the protests was the All India Democratic Students Organisation, which is also helping organise protests on Saturday across several districts in the state. 

The demand was included in the budget announced in February by the then Siddaramaiah government. Until the last academic year, the scheme was applicable to only Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) students. The budget in February promised a ‘concessional bus pass’ scheme to all students from primary to postgraduate level. 

The newly formed JD(S)-Congress coalition government announced that all the schemes of the previous government will be continued but in spite of the scheme figuring in the budget, students have not received bus passes for the new academic year over a month after it began. " We are simply asking the government to stick to a promise it made. We met DC Thammanna (Transport Minister), HD Kumaraswamy and both of them assured  that the scheme will be implemented but it has been almost two weeks since the budget was announced and we are tired of waiting," said Ashwini KS, State Secretary of the AIDSO. 

Meanwhile, BJP’s student wing - the Akhila Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), is planning to hold a protest over the failure of the government to issue bus passes to students. "We have been protesting over this issue for a while and we feel that students should be given free bus passes immediately," said Harsha Manjunath, state president of the organisation. 

Pressure is mounting on the state government to live up to its promise, which it had outlined in the budget. An estimated 19.6 lakh students avail bus passes according to figures collected by various transport authorities in the state. The burden on the state exchequer is estimated to be Rs. 1,955 crore.