Congress promises industry status for travel operators

Congress promises industry status for travel operators

Accusing TRS Government of completely neglecting the problems of cab drivers and travel operators, the Congress party has promised to accord Industry...

Hyderabad: Accusing TRS Government of completely neglecting the problems of cab drivers and travel operators, the Congress party has promised to accord Industry status to tour and travel business in Telangana State.

Addressing a press conference at Gandhi Bhavan on Friday, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) Official Spokesperson Syed Nizamuddin said that the travel industry in Telangana was worth over Rs. 10,000 crore and it was only behind manufacturing and Information Technology (IT) in terms of providing employment. Despite being in such a large size in terms of revenues, operations and manpower, the travel industry remained in a state of neglect under TRS regime, he alleged.

Nizamuddin said that there near 1 lakh drivers were working in Greater Hyderabad as owner-cum-drivers, especially for aggregators like Uber and Ola. However, both Uber and Ola allegedly exploited the drivers by not paying them the promised incentives like business of Rs. 1.50 lakh per month. As against the demand for 10,000 vehicles, they engaged over 70,000 cabs which reduced the revenues and incentives for all. He said thousands of drivers, who purchased vehicles on high interest loans, were pushed into financial crisis. The TRS Government did not react even after a few drivers committed suicide. Instead of regulating the aggregators, TRS Government supported the giants like Ola and Uber while suppressing the poor drivers. Consequently, thousands of drivers are still forced to work under inhuman conditions to come out of their financial crisis, he said.

The TPCC Spokesperson said that thousands of drivers have been working for long hours and facing severe health problems. "Drivers are the backbone of transport, travel and tourism industry. But KCR Government completely neglected them and the Chief Minister never gave an appointment in the last four-and-a-half years even to discuss their problems," he said and assured that the Congress party, if voted to power in next elections, would come up with a special package for cab drivers. He said that the TPCC Manifesto Committee was in receipt of representations from cab drivers and operators associations and all the demands they raised were being considered. He said several incentives, including financial assistance, for drivers would be announced in the party's manifesto.

Nizamuddin also slammed the TRS Government for not passing on the benefits of increasing revenues of Motor Vehicle Tax to the industry. Post bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, he said Telangana State became a major beneficiary in revenues from Motor Vehicle Tax. In 2013-14, the revenues in united AP were Rs. 3,335 crore. In 10 months (from June 2014-March 2015), the total revenues for AP and Telangana were Rs. 3,025 crore. Of this, Telangana Govt earned Rs. 2,226 crore of 73% or three fourth of total revenues. However, he said the same advantage was not passed on to the travel industry.

The Congress leader said that the TRS Government neglected the demand of industry for rationalisation of taxes. The rates were fixed for 23 districts of erstwhile AP, but they were not rationalised after formation of Telangana considering decrease in geographical area. Similarly, he said the TRS Government never consulted AP Govt for scrapping Border Tax between two Telugu States. He said since bifurcation, the operators of more than 5,000 vehicles are forced to pay Border Tax of Rs. 365 per seat every day to travel to the same distance. He said this was an additional burden being borne by the operators due to the negligence of TRS Govt. He said the Border Tax could be removed if talks are held with the AP Government for a reciprocal agreement. He also pointed out that Telangana was yet to join the reciprocal agreement of Southern States.

Nizamuddin said that the TRS Government never looked into the problems being faced by drivers or operators. He pointed out that there was no regular Commissioner for Regional Transport Authority. When Transport Minister Mahender Reddy was approached by the associations, he expressed his helplessness in taking an appointment with the Chief Minister to discuss their problems.

Citing an instance, he said during the previous Congress regime, on receiving a representation from the associations, the then Chief Minister Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy withdrew orders on imposition of Life Tax on Indica Cars although it caused a revenue loss of Rs. 65 Crore to the government. Similarly, the previous Congress Government waived off Rs. 350 crore towards VAT by changing its implementation from retrospective effect to perspective effect. He said Congress party always encouraged the tour and travel industry and it was proactive in resolving its problems.

Stating that the good old days were about to return soon, Nizamuddin appealed the drivers and operators to support the Congress party in next elections to ensure that their problems are solved and their industry gets official recognition.

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