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Lahore bus ready to roll

New Delhi, June 19: India and Pakistan today said they were “operationally” and “technically” ready to re-launch the Delhi-Lahore bus service.

Officials of the Delhi Transport Corporation and Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation met this morning at the state transport corporation headquarters at Indra Prastha Extension and agreed to resume the service on the old routes and with the same conditions and fares.

The decision to resume the bus service is being seen as one step in the direction of restoring peace in the subcontinent.

“The two sides had a good meeting in a very cordial atmosphere and discussed the modalities of resumption of the bus service at the earliest,” both sides said in a joint written statement issued after the meeting.

Accounts officials of the two countries will meet again tomorrow to thrash out the financial aspect of running the service, including the mode of payment for refuelling in both countries.

DTC chairman A.J.S. Sahani, who headed the eight-member Indian delegation, said modalities have been worked out and the buses would start plying as soon as visa and travel documents are issued to the travellers and crew on both sides.

Sahani was assisted by officials from the ministry of external affairs, the Union home ministry, the Union ministry of road transport and highways, Delhi police, the state transport department and the Haryana government. “Operationally and technically we are ready to run the buses,” Sahani said.

Azfar Shafqat, the deputy managing director of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, who is leading a three-member delegation from his country, said: “We had agreement on all operational matters.”

Besides Shafqat, the other members were Saeed Anwar Khan, general manager of the corporation, and manager (accounts) Sayed Qasim Abbas.

Both Sahani and Shafqat said that as indicated earlier, the operators were ready to run the bus from July 1, but the exact date for the re-launch would be decided by the two governments.

Sources said the Pakistan government might take a few days more to start the bus.

Sahani told reporters that the Pakistan tourism corporation has agreed to clear dues of Rs 24 lakh. The two sides have decided to run the buses as per the earlier arrangement — twice a week. The fares will remain the same.

While the DTC was charging Rs 800 per passenger for the 538-km trip to Lahore, Pakistan had fixed the fare at Rs 950. The rates can, however, be reviewed later.

The bus, which starts from the Ambedkar Stadium terminal in Central Delhi, stops at Karnal (Haryana) and Sirhind (Punjab) before terminating in Lahore.

Sources said a preparatory meeting was held on June 16 to chalk out the course of action for today’s meeting. The DTC will run the same golden-coloured buses after overhauling them.

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