Officials said plying unfit vehicles was in violation of Supreme Court orders and also put the lives of people at risk. The buses were plying mostly in Anantapur district.

The Andhra Pradesh Transport Department has initiated an inquiry after being tipped-off that buses sold as scrap by Ashok Leyland were purchased by two companies in Anantapur who were illegally using them in private travels business. Transport officials contacted Ashok Leyland on January 10, 2020 which on January 23 confirmed that in 2018, it sold 40 scrap buses to C Gopal Reddy and 26 scrap buses to Jatadhara Industries Private Ltd based at Tadipatri in Anantapur district.

Who are involved in the scam?
Jatadhara Industries is owned by J C Uma Reddy wife of former TDP MLA J C Prabhakar Reddy, and their son J C Asmith Reddy. C Gopal Reddy is a close associate of Prabhakar Reddy. Prabhakar Reddy and Gopal Reddy were arrested Saturday morning.

What did the investigation find?
The investigation found that all the condemned vehicles were first registered with transport registration authority at Kohima, Nagaland and then brought to Anantapur district with an NOC from Nagaland. A team comprising officials of transport department and Anantapur Police went to Kohima and found that forged documents including Ashok Leyland invoices were used to get the vehicles registered there. The buses were shown as latest models and BS IV compliant. The applications for registration were made by J C Uma Reddy on behalf of C Gopal Reddy. The invoices were shown to have been issued by Ashok Leyland Ltd, Kalyanpur, Uttarakand and Ashok Leyland Ltd, Hosur, Tamilnadu. Though they purchased the vehicles as scrap, they tried to make them fit and road worthy on record for their unlawful gain and for plying vehicles illegally.

Why is it illegal to use scrapped vehicles?
The Supreme Court had on March 29, 2017, ordered that all vehicles that are not compliant to BS IV emission norms shall not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer from April 1, 2017, and that the registering authorities also are prohibited from registering such vehicles from April 1, 2017. “It became clear that Jatadhara Industries and C Gopal Reddy purchased as scrap the vehicles which are not road worthy, fabricated documents to show that these vehicles were road worthy vehicles properly sold by the manufacturer/dealer and registerable under the Motor Vehicle Act, with intention to get them registered at a faraway place in Nagaland,” Joint Transport Commissioner (Road Safety) S A V Prasada Rao said.

Officials said that plying the scrap and unfit vehicles was in violation of the orders Supreme Court orders and also put the lives of people at risk. The buses were plying mostly in Anantapur district.

What action was taken by the AP Transport Department?
The AP Transport Department lodged 24 police complaints against Jatadhara Industries and C Gopal Reddy in Anantapur and three FIRs in Kurnool and sought action against those involved including Asmith Reddy and J C Uma Reddy. Apart from cases for cheating the government, cases were registered for producing fake insurance policies before RTAs, and endangering the safety of people on the road, and disregarding road safety.

“They refitted the scrap buses and were using them in their transport business — Diwakar Travels. After registering them first at Nagaland they obtained NOC within a few days and got them re-registered at Anantapur as it is their native district and were plying these vehicles through their transport business illegally for wrongful gains which amounts to cheating the government,’’ Transport Minister Perni Venkatramaiah told The Indian Express.

Where are these buses now?
Officials said some of these vehicles have since been sold on to various others in AP. “As of now we know that they purchased 154 vehicles — Jatadhara Industries got 50 and C Gopal Reddy 104 — of BS III emission standards sold as scrap. All these were registered as BS IV vehicles in various parts of the country, including at RTA Ananthapur in the names of the Jatadhara Industries and C Gopal Reddy. The transport department has blocked and cancelled registration of 101 of these buses which are in AP rolls, and seized 60 buses while 41 are yet to be traced. About 28 vehicles are in other states and transport authorities there have been informed to block and seize the vehicles.

Courtesy The IndianExpress