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Bus services hit dues hurdle

The suspension of bus services on some routes and the pullout threat from few players over the payment issues with Bihar State Road Transport Corporation (BSRTC) have cast shadow on the feasibility of the mass transit system in public-private partnership mode.

After Eden Transport Private Limited suspended the ring route bus service in Patna on April 19 and BSRTC seized its nine buses on Friday, Hyderabad-based Gireesh Infrastructure Private Limited has threatened to withdraw its operations by the end of December after BSRTC served notices on it for pending payment of Rs 1.89 crore owing to royalty against operation of the buses.

Gireesh Infrastructure Private Limited, on the other hand, claimed that it had not received subsidy amounting to over Rs 3 crore from BSRTC since the commencement of its operations.

Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, the chairman of Gireesh Infrastructure Private Limited, told The Telegraph on Sunday: “It is extremely disappointing that despite not having paid subsidy amounting to over Rs 3 crore over the past two years, the BSRTC has served notices to us demanding royalty. I would be coming down to Patna in mid-December to hold final talks with BSRTC. If the corporation does not find any solution to the issue, I shall withdraw my buses and operate them in other states.”

The firm runs inter-district and inter-state air-conditioned buses under the banner of Gaurav Luxury. The company had initially proposed to run 92 buses.

Only 12 vehicles are plying at present. Not just Patna, the public-private partnership (PPP) mode of running buses is going haywire elsewhere also.

The Muzaffarpur ring route bus service being run in the PPP mode by Amar Jyoti Travels has also hit a roadblock owing to payment. The corporation has filed a case against Amar Jyoti Travels at the court of Road Transport Authority at Muzaffarpur for recovery of dues amounting to around Rs 1.06 crore.

While the operators are facing charges of not paying royalty to BSRTC according to the terms of the PPP agreement, the corporation has not been paying subsidy to them for procuring the buses.

BSRTC administrator Vijaya Lakshmi Nadendla admitted the laxity in the payment of subsidy to the operators.

“The PPP mode for running public transport buses was framed in a way to give subsidy to the operators out of the royalty paid by them but such a model could not be executed,” said Vijaya Lakshmi.

Grudge claim

Eden Transport Private Limited has claimed that the seizure of its buses is the fallout of political differences. Sachchidanand Rai, the managing director of the firm, said: “After I left the JD(U) and joined the BJP in mid-October, the government started mounting pressure on me. A case is still pending at Patna High Court, but my buses have been seized owing to political disputes. We have not been paid subsidy amounting to over Rs 8 crore.”