Demonetisation: School buses to go off Mumbai roads next?

Updated: Nov 14, 2016, 10:01 IST | Pallavi Smart

With operators incurring a daily expense of Rs 20,000, which is only Rs 4,000 less the revised weekly withdrawal limit, vehicles could stop plying from Wednesday

The government’s demonetisation move has now brought school buses to a screeching halt, literally. Come Wednesday, the buses may not run as it is becoming difficult for operators to withdraw cash – whose weekly withdrawal limit has been capped at Rs 24,000 – only a little more than they require daily for filling fuel and other maintenance activities.

The School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) is to meet authorities today to discuss a solution.

“School bus operators will not be able to run buses from Wednesday onwards. This is because all of us bus operators require Rs 20,000 per day for expenses, but the government rule has made this weekly withdrawal limit. How will we run our business? It is bizarre that when we have our own money in bank accounts, we cannot use it,” said Anil Garg, president of SBOA.

Students will be informed about this decision on Tuesday, when schools reopen after the Diwali vacation. They will also be told about alternative arrangements, if any.

The concerns of the school bus owners aside, schools and parents think this is an illogical move, which will end up causing tremendous inconvenience to children.

'Use technology'
“We do not understand how they are related to this issue. They have regular petrol pumps where they go. They can easily devise a system in which issues can be resolved. Also, in today’s day and age when there are so many technological options like card payments, online transaction, taking children at ransom like this is completely illogical,” Uday Nare, teacher in Hansraj Morarji public school in Andheri West and spokesperson for Shikshak Bharti.

Echoing Nare, Arundhati Chavan, president of the city’s Parents Teachers Association (PTA) also called it an illogical move. “Instead of taking children at ransom, SBOA could try and talk to authorities to find a solution to the problem. And then if the government is not willing to show support they can talk about keeping vehicles off the roads.”

Garg said they would discuss using online payments for their daily transactions during today’s meeting.

Truckers demand increase in withdrawal limit
Truckers body AIMTC yesterday demanded increasing the cash withdrawal limit to Rs 20,000 per day in view of inconvenience caused to drivers. It has since been lifted to Rs 24,000. All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which represents 93 lakh truckers, said acute financial crunch has impacted movement of trucks and supply of essential items. AIMTC President Bhim Wadhwa said 80% of the transport operations are cash based which implies that Rs 1,194 crore is required on a daily basis by the sector to meet its operations costs.

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