‘Chaka Bandh’ Agitation Before Roll Out Of LAccMI Scheme In Odisha’s Undivided Koraput
Malkangiri: Private buses went off roads in Odisha’s undivided Koraput region as vehicle owners resorted to 24-hour ‘Chaka Bandh’ (ceasework) agitation, protesting against the launch of Location-Accessible Multimodal Initiative (LAccMI), providing seamless public transport network between gram panchayats and capital city, on Monday, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.
Around 1,000 buses, connecting all gram panchayats, block headquarters, district headquarters in Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Malkangiri with major cities and economic hubs across the state, will be rolled up under the scheme. It will be launched in undivided Koraput, Gajapati and Kalahandi districts in the first phase with two buses in each block, sources said.
“They are running this scheme by buying old vehicles from a Gujarat company. The private bus owners will suffer immense losses due to this scheme. The protest is being observed peacefully today only in undivided Koraput. We will launch a statewide agitation from October 10 if our demand is not fulfilled,” said president of Private Bus Owners’ Association, Malkangiri, Venkat Rao told the media.
Another protester said that they welcome LAccMI scheme, but they should be included in it. “The private bus owners’ association was with the people and ferried them even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, they are favouring Gujarat and Maharashtra-based companies. We also have to pay the EMI of new buses brought after the government scrapped 15-year-old vehicles,” he said.
Earlier, the Transport Commissioner-cum-Chairman of the State Transport Authority (STA) had written to the general secretary of the association, saying that all RTOS will hold meetings with the concerned bus associations in their jurisdiction, and in case of clash of timings of buses of private operators with LAccMI bus, STA resolutions regarding grant of permit will be followed.
The state government had approved this new public transport network programme in September. The LAccMI Scheme would be implemented in a phased manner at an estimated cost of Rs 3,178 crore in the first three years of bus operation from 2023-24 to 2025-26. The tenure of the scheme would be 10 years extendable by 2 years. Mission Shakti Self Help Group (SHGs) will be engaged in various operation and maintenance-related activities within the blocks in the scheme, which will also facilitate efficient transport of agricultural commodities from production sites to destinations, the sources added.