The SAD-BJP government will complete the first year of its second consecutive term next month, but still there seems to be no sight of the City Bus Service, one of the pet projects that the government had envisaged for tackling traffic congestion and pollution on the city roads.
It was way back in 2007, when the SAD-BJP combine returned to power that it announced city bus services for the cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar. While the bus services in Jalandhar and Ludhiana commenced a couple of years back, there is still no sight of the service in the holy city.
The trial run of the city bus service for the holy city was conducted amid much fanfare in the middle of 2007, after the SAD-BJP alliance captured power in the Amritsar Municipal Corporation (AMC). But unfortunately, the trial run has remained a trial only and Amritsar still awaits the city bus project. The residents hope the SAD-BJP combine, which is now in its second successive term in the AMC, would be able to get going with the project.
The construction of the bus terminal for the service had also commenced but it was stopped midway as there was no sight of the buses. A number of bus shelters which were also constructed have now been encroached upon or have become home for beggars.
Tenders for buses
However, it seems the hopes of locals may not be fulfilled in the near future and the project may still take time getting off the blocks. The reason in the delay is that so far no order for the purchase of buses has been placed.
On behalf of the AMC, the Ludhiana City Bus Service Limited under the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) is to carry out the purchase of the buses after floating tenders. According to official records available with the Ludhiana MC, there was no response when tenders were floated for the first time in November last year.
However, on December 18 last year, tenders were again floated for the purchase of buses. In response, three companies applied in the low floor (AC) bus category, two applied in the semi AC low floor category and one in the mini AC category. Three companies each applied in the mid AC category and mid non-AC category.
An official spokesman for the AMC when contacted told HT here on Thursday, "A total of 150 buses are to be bought by the Ludhiana MC for Amritsar. The purchase will begin only after shortlisting the companies from whom the buses of different categories are to be bought. This may take time."
A sum of Rs. 12 crore has been lying with the AMC for quite sometime for the purchase of buses. This amount includes the Rs. 8.33 crore received under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM) from the central government. This is just the initial amount as more funds will be made available to the AMC once the purchase of the buses starts.
Benefits of city bus
As the holy has no public transport system, the project will connect all major parts of the city and help people in commuting easily from one place to other and that too at a cheaper rates.
Local RTI activist Naresh Johar said, "The service will help in checking traffic congestion of the city roads. As of now cycle rickshaws and autorickshaws are a major problem on the roads and once this starts, people will prefer buses as these will be cheaper and more comfortable. Moreover, the aged will find it easy to get onto low-floor buses."
Dr Ashwani Luthra, professor, Guru Ram Das School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, said, “To tackle the traffic problem and pollution in Amritsar, a public transport system is the need of the hour. The city bus service should start immediately."