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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Minister inaugurating Bus service is good; but not his driving a bus

In India, we have the fanciful notion of Ministers, Bureaucrats, Actresses and higher ranking officials opening shops, inaugurating events and more.  If one is inaugurating a Table Tennis tournament, the celebrity inaugurating would try his or her hand, by trying to play a shot.  If it is cricket, a dolly simple ball would be delivered, which would be hit (tried to be hit) to the boundary by the person inaugurating – there will be smiles and photo flashes – all happy !!

But a Karnataka Minister - Anand Vasant Asnotikar, elected from Karwar, Uttara Kannada overdid and went for a overdrive landing himself into trouble !!!!!!

Vehicles are driven by Driver.  A Drier is a person who is at the steering and should hold a valid driving licence, other than a learner’s licence – a licence authorized to drive the vehicle of the specified class or description.  Thus a DL for a Motor cycle will not be valid for driving a Light Motor Vehicle.   Section 3 of MV Act 1988 read with the Insurance Policy Conditions stipulates that a person is required to possess an effective driving licence to drive a vehicle in public
place.  There are some primary requirements for the licence to be effective.  It has to be valid for that period and it should be effective for that particular class of vehicle that is being driven.   There are different categories of vehicles such as Auto gears, vehicles with gears,  LMV, Medium goods vehicles, Medium passenger vehicle, Heavy goods vehicle, Heavy Passenger Motor vehicle and the like.    The Motor Vehicles Act defines Transport Vehicle as a Public service vehicle, a goods carriage, an educational institutional Bus or a private service  vehicle.  This is no post on the class of vehicles or the validity of Driving Licence for such type of vehicles.  There is also a requirement of Badge for drivers of Public Service vehicles.  I think that the MV act does not make it mandatory for a badge nor does the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 provide for the requirement of one – however Sec 28 (2) (d) empowers the State Govt to make rules regarding issuance and possession of Badges.  The State Govt can impose stipulation on badges as also uniform to be worn by drivers of transport vehicles.

In the ancient site of sea trade – Karwar in Uttara Kannada on the banks of Kali river on the west coast of India, a mishap was averted but not embarrassment  on 27th Feb 12 when Karnataka Fisheries and Science & Technology minister Anand Asnotikar lost control of a state transport bus and damaged a goods rickshaw. The driver escaped unhurt.  Obvious the Minsiter did not have a licence to drive a heavy vehicle nor had the practice to steer the vehicle safely. 

The Minister was at  Karwar bus stand  to inaugurate two new KSRTC services, one to Hassan and another to Manipal. After the puja, the buses were taken out of the bus stand by their drivers. When they returned to the bus stand, the minister’s followers egged him on to inaugurate the buses in style. Initially, Asnotikar was reluctant, but later he bowed to their requests and asked the driver of one bus to allow him to drive. Senior KSRTC officials were mute spectators to the overdrive.   A bus packed by media and supporters,  Asnotikar tried taking control by changing gears, could not control the speed, pedestrians ran helter-skelter and vehicle came to a halt after hitting a goods auto.  Though none was injured, the incident threw open too many uncomfortable questions as also the practical wisdom of the celebrity in trying to drive a vehicle. 

It was later stated that the Minister offered to compensate the damaged auto.    Police officers said they would not book a case against the minister as he had struck a compromise with the rickshaw driver.

Mr  Anand Vasanth Asnotikar is a Graduate and is an industrialist, interested in social service also.  He had tried to assuage the feelings of those in Coastal districts who were complaining of apathy of the Govt in not operating enough buses in coastal districts.  He was trying to launch KSRTC Volvo buses from Karwar  and had also promised more bus services   between Udupi Mangalore and Kasargod.  He also assured putting up a Regional transport office at Udupi. 

Though the incident was not major, the circumstances leading to the accident raises uncomfortable questions on safety aspects being ignored by celebrities

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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