The urinals at Sitaramdera bus terminus say it all. (Bhola Prasad)
Sangeeta Sharma, a resident of Baridih waiting to board a bus to Chas in Bokaro, had to buy a mineral water bottle for Rs 15 — instead of the MRP of Rs 12 a litre — because her eight-year-old daughter was thirsty and there are no drinking water taps at Sitaramdera terminus
Budhram Gorai, on his way to Purulia in Bengal, had to find his little son a hedge so that the eight-year-old could relieve himself because Kolhan’s biggest interstate bus depot has no toilet
It goes without saying that the Sharmas and the Gorais are not alone in their predicaments. Nearly 30,000 passengers, who travel by long-distance buses, grapple with similar untold miseries every day.
It has been more than a month since the Sitaramdera terminus, from where 400 buses leave for various destinations in Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, was auctioned to a private party, Sidhgora-based trader Tarkeshwar Tiwary, for Rs 78 lakh. But let alone a makeover, nothing has changed at the godforsaken depot.
According to terms and condition, Tiwary was required to maintain the terminus for a year (April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015), a task which includes upkeep of basic amenities such as drinking water facilities and toilets.
While not a single tap exists anywhere on the premises, the lone unisex lavatory is in so bad a shape that neither men nor women can use it anymore. Ironically, the terminus boasts electronic surveillance to keep criminals at bay.
The Sitaramdera bus depot, which sprawls over 1.5 acres along the Sakchi-Mango road near Subernarekha second bridge, was built at a cost of Rs 1.2 crore in 1998. It became operational in the month of October the same year and the Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee (JNAC) was entrusted with its overall maintenance.
Chief patron of Jamshedpur Bus Owners’ Association Upender Sharma expressed disgust at the current state of affairs.
“We have passengers complaining every day. It is surprising that while the administration auctioned the terminus to a private party for improvement of amenities, nothing has changed even a month later. On the other hand, toll is collected from every bus in the name of infrastructure development. We have registered our grouse with the JNAC, but in vain,” Sharma said.
According to the association official, luxury AC buses plying long distances cough up Rs 100 per trip per day, while local ones (plying within Jharkhand) pay Rs 50 for every two trips in a day. Those buses that run within the East Singhbhum district shell out Rs 25 for every four trips in a day.
When confronted, Tiwary cited lack of administrative co-operation for the abysmal condition of the terminus.
“We were handed over the job on April 1, but the urban local body (read JNAC) did not remove encroachment. The taps are provided by Jusco and are defunct. The auction condition was that the administration would provide us with the facilities and we will have to maintain it with toll collected from buses. We have written to the deputy commissioner and the JNAC in this connection several times, but no action has been taken,” he claimed.
On what they did with the revenue earned, Tiwary said they had installed 16 closed-circuit television cameras at the terminus for the safety of passengers. JNAC special officer Deepak Sahay admitted “problems” at the terminus and promised “investigation followed by action soon”.
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