PASSENGERS WERE the ultimate sufferers in the face-off between the private bus operators and the district administration over the issue of plying of buses and taxis to Indore and Ujjain from the newly constructed Halalpura bus stand.
The private bus operators under the aegis of the Anubandhit Bus Owners Association and the Nagar Wahan Sewa Owners Samiti suspended bus operations to Indore and Ujjain today to protest the shifting of bus stand from old Bhopal to Halalpura. They said that the shifting would cause severe inconvenience to passengers from local transport and safety point of view and this would hamper their business.
Bhupendra Jain of the Nagar Wahan Samiti said that the strike would continue on Wednesday. He alleged that the administration was taking this illogical decision to benefit the Star Bus operators.
The district administration is however defiant that the buses and the taxis would have to ply from the new bus stand at Halalpura and if any bus owner tries to ply from old Nadra bus stand, action would be initiated against them.
District Collector S K Mishra told Hindustan Times that alternative arrangements for buses and taxis to Indore would be made. He said that 27 buses plied on Tuesday and by Wednesday the number of buses would be increased to 40, as at least six operators have applied for temporary permits from the administration.
Mishra said that the convenience of passengers is responsibility of the administration and would be taken care of. The bus operators need not worry about them. The bus operators were welcome to keep their services suspended, as the administration has already made alternative arrangements, he added.
He also said that increase in local transport distance means generation of more revenue for administration and employment for local minibus operators and auto-rickshaw drivers.
This face-off ensured that only 13 buses could take off from the new bus stand near Bairagarh putting passengers to severe inconvenience. Added to this the lack of civic amenities like drinking water and properly marked toilet arrangements saw the passengers at their wits end.
The worst sufferers were the transit passengers who had come from some other towns on way to Indore and Ujjain, as they had no information about the change of bus stand. Most of them went to the Nadra bus stand in old Bhopal and were told to go to Halalpura to board buses. They spent huge sum of money on the local conveyance only to reach Halalpura and find that no buses were operating.
However, the district administration claimed that the passengers were provided all facilities. An official release by district administration said that all civic amenities were provided and better arrangements would be made in coming days. Mishra has made it clear that it is illegal to ply passengers for Indore and Shivpuri/Ujjain from old bus stand.