BHOPAL: Providing relief to bus operators, the Madhya Pradesh state government has waived taxes for them for five months of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Bus operators of state had been demanding the waiver of taxes for around six months. This had in turn created a rift between the bus operators and the government. The state government issued a notification about the waiving of taxes on Wednesday, ending the ‘trust deficit’ between the bus operators and the government.

Incidentally, as the conflict had raged on, bus operators had refused to ply buses even after the government had allowed restricted movement after the announcement of unlock guidelines. After several rounds of discussions between the two, the state government had announced the relaxation in taxes, but didn’t issue the notification.

The government had waived taxes for five months, from April to August. Bus operators had to deposit half the tax for the month of September.

According to an estimate by the transport department, bus operators of the state will get a relief of about Rs. 200 crores. More than 45,000 buses ply on prime routes across the state. On an average, a tax of Rs 8,000 is levied per bus. The transport department earns revenue of more than Rs 432 crores per year from the plying of these buses. The figure stands good only for passenger buses and not other commercial vehicles.

The State government has also provided relief to the bus operators when it comes to the depositing of taxes. They have been given time up to March 2021 to deposit the taxes. Earlier they had had to deposit the tax by March 2020.

State government had allowed plying of buses immediately after unlock 1. According to the order, buses were allowed from June 1 but the bus operators refused to ply as the state government had asked the bus operators to run busses with half capacity because of social distancing norms due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Bus operators refused to operate bus services citing feasibility with half the capacity. Later, a new order was passed allowing buses to run at full capacity, but operators had been adamant about the taxes for the lockdown period.

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