Seventy-five bus body builders from Madhya Pradesh, along with more that 6,000 bus body-builders all over the country, are up in arms against a new bus code, which will force them to buy extra land and invest beyond their means. All of them are from unorganized sector and want the bus code to be scrapped.
What has irked the bus builders most are the provisions that require 1.5 acres of land to set up a fabrication unit, make prototype of bus and get it tested from Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) or Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT).
It means they will have to buy chassis which costs Rs 11 lakh and build bus which will cost another Rs 10 lakh and pay up to Rs 35 lakh as testing charges to accredition agency.
“We don’t have this much money to invest or buy extra land. We build buses that cost between Rs 3.5 lakh and Rs 10.50 lakh,” said Santan Bus Body Builders owner Shivnarayan Sharma.
Present bus body-building units are located in less than half an acre area, while many build buses in open on road sides in villages. Buses are built on chassis provided to them by clients.
“Code will put us on road and affect livelihood of five lakh people in the country,” Sharma said.
Bus builders say code’s emphasis on safety is fine, but they build buses that are stronger and last longer than branded buses (Ashok Leyland, Tata etc whose buses cost from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 80 lakh).
“In last 50 years, there has been no accident in the country in which the bus body collapsed and people died,” said Puranmal Jangid of Gopal Body Builders & Repairs (Indore).
“We move people and goods. World’s business –paint, oil, tyre, cushing, spare parts-rest on us. The government should show concern. If it wants revenue from us, it can levy excise duty as it used to do earlier,” Jangid remarked.
On February 2, 2011, Union road transport and highways ministry issued a gazette notification to introduce bus code AIS: 052 from April 1 which, among other provisions, made it mandatory for all bus body builders to obtain an accreditation certificate from ARAI or CIRT-both located at Pune. Accreditation was to serve as proof of their ability to adhere to safety norms.
Within 20 days of gazette notification, bus body builders from more than 10 states including MP called on Union road transport and highways minister CP Joshi to register their protest.