Calcutta, Oct. 29: The state transport department has decided to open an office in Siliguri in keeping with the chief minister’s plans of improving transport infrastructure in north Bengal.
Sources said the office, which will be opened at the Tenzing Norgay bus terminus in Siliguri, will initially issue permits for contract carriages such as buses across all north Bengal districts. The permits are now issued by the State Transport Authority (STA) in Calcutta.
The managing director of the North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) will oversee the operations of the Siliguri office.
“The new office will issue permits for buses and other contract carriage vehicles in all six districts, including Malda, to ensure there is no procedural delay,” transport minister Madan Mitra said.
According to a transport department official in Calcutta, the Siliguri office will also give special permits to those willing to ply tourist buses.
At a meeting on development projects in north Bengal on October 22, Mamata Banerjee had asked transport secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay to decentralise the operations of the department and open an office in north Bengal.
The idea, she had said, was to minimise procedural delays in providing better transport in north Bengal.
Apart from the STA, there are regional transport offices in each district that handle licence-related matters.
The transport department has also decided to run 100 buses in north Bengal under the JNNURM scheme. Such buses now ply only in Calcutta and adjoining areas.
The NBSTC has around 250 buses, most of which are in a sorry state. During her recent visit to the hills, Mamata had learnt about the shortage of buses in north Bengal.