The government is all set to scrap its popular Bal Rath scheme and replace it with another scheme, wherein the drivers of such buses and not the schools will be the owners of the vehicles used to ferry the students to schools and back.
Coming out with this information, director of transport G P Bhat told ‘The Navhind Times’ that the new scheme envisaged by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who also holds the education portfolio, is in the final stages and has presently gone for administrative approval, and would soon be implemented.
“The main aim of the government to come out with this scheme is to make the drivers of the buses the owners of these vehicles, in turn generating jobs, as well as maintaining the vehicles in good condition,” he added.
“As per the new scheme, all the existing ‘Bal Rath’ buses will be declared as condemned vehicles by the government, and the respective schools will have to sell them and deposit the related money in the government exchequer,” the director of education maintained, informing that the drivers, who have been driving these buses, will be allowed to acquire new ones through
the Economic Development Corporation, which in turn will mean that these drivers will become the owners of the buses.
If the drivers presently driving the ‘Bal Rath’ buses are not interested in the new scheme, they will be allowed to give up their claim on the new scheme, and others will be allowed to compete for the scheme.
Bhat said that once the drivers procure the new buses, they will be paid a regular lump-sum amount by the department of education, say on quarterly basis, towards the salaries of the driver and the bus attendant as well as the fuel.
“Furthermore, these drivers, who will also be the owners of the vehicles, will be allowed to use them for their personal use including renting them out, before or after the school hours, so that they have an additional income,” he noted, pointing out that as per the new scheme, all the responsibilities as regards the bus, including its maintenance, will have to be shouldered by the driver.
Bhat informed that the Bal Rath scheme was introduced by the government in the year 2011, and buses under the particular scheme were purchased till 2013.
“Presently there are approximately 520 such vehicles in possession of various schools around the state,” he mentioned.
Under the original Bal Rath scheme – which had initially been handled by the department of social welfare and then transferred to the department of education – the state provides buses to government-aided institutions to enable the safe transportation of students to and from school.