Started with much fanfare in 2011, the city bus service has come to a grinding halt as the authorities have failed to stop illegal plying of autos and buses.
As per the municipal corporation, despite repeated letters to the police commissioner, district transport officer (DTO) and even state transport commissioner, the illegal running of buses and autos has not been stopped and Ludhiana City Bus Service Limited has been forced to stop the service after it incurred heavy losses due to unchecked growth of illegally operating autos and buses.
Also, the former additional commissioner-cum-chief executive officer of the city bus service had written to the authorities that some of the mini buses were plying on same routes where the city buses were plying but none of the authorities took action on the buses running without any required permission.
HT has procured the copy of complaints that were written by the MC officials to the police commissioner and district transport officer regarding illegal mini buses and autos plying on various routes. According to sources, these buses were running with political support.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had inaugurated the city bus service in 2011. In 2012, 10 city buses were running on route, Dholewal to Jalandhar bypass via bus stand, while another 10 city buses were plying from Ferozepur Road octroi to Jalandhar bypass. "We have found that three mini buses were illegally running on same routes. Earlier, these buses were not running on these routes," said a letter, which was written by the then additional commissioner of MC to the district transport officer in August 2012.
A similar letter was shot off by Ludhiana City Bus Service Limited to the district transport officer in September 2013. It said: "Earlier, only three buses were illegally plying on various routes, but now the total number of buses has increased manifold. These buses are creating huge losses to the city bus service."
The letter also stated that the buses that were plying without permission were charging less fee than the Ludhiana city buses due to which several areas were largely affected which included Bus stand to Jalandhar bypass, Octroi Post via Jawahar Nagar Camp, Bharat Nagar Nagar Chowk, railway station, Clock Tower, Sabji Mandi, Jalandhar Bypass Chowk and Jamalpur.
Sources also revealed that of nearly 45,000 autos that were running in the city, only 12,000 were running legally.
The MC officials had also approached the police commissioner in July 2013 to take strict action against the illegally plying of vehicles as per the law.
Jasbindar Singh Grewal, general secretary of the Small-Scale Bus Operator Association, Punjab, said: "No mini bus is running in the city without permit. Even if any mini bus is found running illegally then action should be taken against the violators. The city bus service has also violated norms as they used to take buses to rural areas without any valid permission."
Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions Pvt Ltd, which was operating and maintaining the buses of Ludhiana City bus service Limited, had stopped running buses in July as the civic body failed to pay outstanding dues of more than `2.5 crore.
Admitting that he has received several complaints from the MC about autos and mini buses, DTO, Anil Garg, claimed: "I had asked the MC officials to meet me and provide information about the illegal buses plying on city roads but to no avail."
Without informing whether he and his team has conducted any drive to check permits of the mini buses plying on different routes, he said: "I will ask private mini bus operators and Ludhiana City bus service Limited to show their permits." ADCP, traffic, Gurdeep Singh was not available for comment.