Buses aplenty, none to ride
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- Published 30.06.10
|Brand new buses parked in Patrapara await the urban development department’s nod to start ferrying passengers. Telegraph picture.|
Bhubaneswar, June 29: Swanky buses have arrived in the capital, but their wheels will roll on the city streets only after a few months. Reason? The state government is not ready with the logistics to ply them.
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) mayor Ananta Jena had dropped a hint that the 50 new buses would start plying in the city from April 1. But two months on, they are lying idle.
Appealing to the government to take immediate steps to start the city bus service, Jena warned that the new vehicles would be damaged by the rains.
But the mayor’s suggestion seems to have failed to make any impact on the man who matters. Urban development minister Badri Narayan Patra made it clear last week that the bus service would not tee off in the near future.
“There are no immediate plans to ply the buses on roads,” Patra told the state legislative Assembly. He acknowledged that it had failed to start the service due to some procedural requirements.
Raising the bus service issue in the House, Bhubaneswar MLA Bhagirathi Badajena had said the commuters of the capital had to face hardships due to the absence of a proper transport system.
But Patro did not make any commitment on when the buses would run.
“There is a need to set up a company, conduct a traffic survey, build a depot-cum-terminal on five acres of land and finalise the fare and select a private agency for the overall management of the buses. All these exercises require time,” Patro said.
To set up a depot-cum-terminal, the general administration (GA) department has allocated 4.5 acres of land near Pokhariput and the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has been entrusted with the task of building it, Patra informed the House.
A company under the banner Bhubaneswar-Puri Transport Service Limited has been registered. To manage the buses on PPP mode, a tender had been floated and Dream Team Sahara has participated in the tender process, he said.
But residents are finding it hard to buy Patra’s logic behind the delay in teeing off the city bus service. The residents alleged that the government was deliberately dilly-dallying over introduction of the buses because of pressure from autorickshaw associations.
“The administrative officials are hand-in-glove with auto drivers. So, the government is not interested in starting the city bus service,” said a senior citizen of the city.
The auto associations had organised a massive rally earlier this year protesting against the government’s proposal to run the buses. However, the police commissionerate had intervened and brought the situation under control.
A massive awareness programme was launched and efforts were made to convince them that the buses would run on the main roads and not on the sub-roads and feeders.
“We have convinced the auto associations that they would not be affected by the running of the buses. Efforts have been initiated to bring the buses on roads soon,” BMC mayor Jena said.
The urban development minister said the government was planning to buy 100 more buses for Bhubaneswar under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Of them, 50 would be standard buses with 44 seats and the rest would be minibuses with 32 seats.
“We have purchased 50 buses for Rs 742.50 lakh and the rest would be bought soon,” Patro said in the House last week. The state government has engaged New Delhi-based Urban Mass Transit Company Limited as its advisor.