Regional Transport Offices (RTO) in Maharashtra have taken action against more than 3,000 private buses for alleged violation of safety rules and other norms, a top government official said on Monday.
The private buses faced action during a 12-hour-long special drive launched by the transport department over the last weekend.
State transport commissioner Avinash Dhakane, addressing a press conference at his office here, said his department has taken action against 3,062 private buses for violation of safety rules and other norms.
Of these, 213 buses were detained during the special drive that was undertaken between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, he said.
Dhakane said the drive was undertaken in the wake of a bus accident in which the fitness certificate of the private vehicle involved was found to have expired. The accident took place at Kashedi Ghat on the busy Mumbai-Goa highway recently.
The department is going to take such "surprise checks" in the future, too, to ensure the safety of passengers, he said.
According to Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Department officials, they have issued memorandums (memos) to 3,062 vehicles during the drive.
Of these, 213 vehicles are detained for various violations such expiry of fitness certificate, operating without permit and non-payment of road tax, among others, they said.
The maximum detained vehicles were under the Thane RTO jurisdiction, they said, adding the department also seized many Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh registered buses plying in Maharashtra without proper passenger carriage permits.
Dhakane said they had maintained utmost secrecy about the drive to make it effective and over 600 officers of different ranks participated in the operation.
The department had arranged state transport buses to ferry passengers in case private vehicles in which they were travelling were detained for violating safety rules, he said.
Maharashtra has 50 Regional Transport Offices.
"The most important objective of the drive was to check if buses were fit for ferrying passengers. The other purposes included to find out if they have paid taxes," the state transport commissioner said.
"Thousands of passengers travel on these buses and hence taking care of their safety is our responsibility," Dhakane said.
However, private bus operators claimed the department conducted the special drive by flouting Motor Vehicles Act provisions about not checking buses between sunset and sunrise to avoid inconvenience to passengers.
Therefore, they have written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Transport Minister Anil Parab highlighting the issue and listing their grievances.
Dhakane, however, refuted their claim and said most buses on inter-city routes start the journey in the night and reach their destination early in the morning.
"Does it mean we should not check any bus plying in the night despite the violation of norms related to passenger safety?" he asked.