Monday, 30th October 2017

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Dhanbad civic body expands bus fleet as roads improve

5 old buses refurbished and to be given to SHGs; 56 more to be made roadworthy

By Praduman Choubey in Dhanbad
  • Published 9.02.19, 12:29 AM
  • Updated 9.02.19, 12:29 AM
  • 2 mins read
Revamped city buses on DMC office campus in Dhanbad on Friday. Picture by Gautam Dey

Commuting across coal town may become a tad more easier by the end of the month, courtesy the civic corporation’s efforts to immediately expand its operational city bus fleet from nine to 14 while mulling the rollout of 56 more hitherto grounded vehicles in a phased manner.

The move follows widening and strengthening of major arteries, including the Dhanbad-Sindri and Dhanbad-Barwaddah roads.

Mayor Chandrashekhar Agarwal on Friday told this newspaper that five of the 61 city buses idling at the Bartand depot had been repaired and would be formally handed over to area-level committees, comprising trained women self-help groups, on February 11 for operations.

“In phases thereafter, we will repair and roll out the rest of the fleet. The first five buses will be assigned during the upcoming street food festival (from February 11 to 13) along with distribution of loans and other benefits among different SHGs,” Agarwal said.

Uday Kachhap, assistant engineer of the corporation’s transport wing, said routes for the five buses would be decided during a DMC standing committee meeting later this month.

“The meeting is also likely to pass repair budget for the second phase that will involve at least 10 more buses. Repairs will be done at Swaraj Mazda’s Asansol (Bengal) workshop,” Kachhap added.

Currently, the operational fleet of nine ferries 30 persons on an average per trip per day. Seven of these buses ply between Dhanbad and Katras while one each runs on the Dhanbad-Baghmara and Dhanbad-Narayanpur routes. They are outsourced to various private agencies selected through tenders.

The city bus service in Dhanbad was launched on August 9, 2010, with a fleet of 24 vehicles procured with funds under then Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) was entrusted with operation and maintenance.

Although the fleet size gradually increased to 70, a host of issues — from staff (drivers and conductors) strike in protest against delayed payment to expiry of permits — plagued the much-touted service. Poor maintenance also led to recurrent technical snags.

On September 15, 2014, the JTDC finally withdrew as city bus guardian following a state government order and the municipal corporation stepped in. Several attempts were made to repair and operate the buses by engaging private parties. But, some glitch or the other kept most of the vehicles grounded till date.

The corporation hopes involvement of dedicated self-help groups will turn around this situation.