here are more than 60,000 commercial transport vehicles that ply across Kashmir, ferrying public passengers on normal days. More than 1.5 lakh people including vehicle owners, drivers and conductors earn their livelihood from public transport. Everyone knows that those associated with this sector don’t have enough money to buy even essentials for their homes as they have been out of work almost from last three years. In a series of videos, viral on social networking sites from last few days, various bus owners were seen scrapping their buses to meet their daily chores, which is unfortunate. According to these bus owners, they have to incur a yearly maintenance cost of about Rs 1,00,000 for each vehicle, irrespective of whether they earn nothing from them due to Covid lockdown. One thing has now been conclusively established that the government has failed in its efforts to help them.
Since the abrogation of Article-370, transport sector in Jammu and Kashmir suffered huge losses, and instead of providing some relief, the government has increased their token tax and also levied surcharge on petrol and on diesel. This means the transporters will suffer more even if public transport is allowed on the roads. On normal days, these transporters earn between Rs 1,000 to 1,200 per day, out of which the driver is given about Rs 600 and the conductor takes about Rs 300 per day. Most of the drivers don’t own their vehicles and conductors work on a daily-wage basis. Due to the Covid–19 pandemic, the transport sector has been severely affected and have suffered huge financial losses. Now, these transporters have no money to continue and are on the verge of collapse. The horrors of the pandemic has multiplied their economic health along with their physical health. The primary objective should be helping these transporters, so that they can survive during these testing times.