The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) might be facing an acute financial crisis, but this did not stop the corporation from extending favours to private bus operators with 'political influence' by giving them land at throwaway price.
This is reflected in the meagre Rs 1,300 per month collected as rent by the PRTC for the makeshift offices of two private bus operators - Orbit transport company of Bathinda and Deep transport company of Gidderbaha in Muktsar - built on an area of about 100 square feet within the premises of the Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT) in Bathinda.
The amount includes Rs 1,000 as rent and Rs 300 as charges for electricity.
This is in contrast to the high rents collected from the shops inside the bus stand.
The owner of a shop built inside the bus stand, on a land smaller than the bus operators' offices said that while he paid Rs 12, 000 per month as rent these bus operators were paying just Rs 1,300 per month. This clearly reflected the political influence behind the allotment of space, he said.
A bus operator, on the condition of anonymity, said that if two operators had been allowed to set up their offices inside the bus stand, then the others should also be permitted to do so or the PRTC management should allot some space to all private bus operators to run their businesses.
ISBT general manager Rajinder Joshi said that these offices had been around for many years while he joined recently. He added that he only knew that both companies were paying Rs 1,000 as rent and an additional Rs 300 towards power, for which they were being given receipts.
However, defending the corporation, he said that the offices paid only a small sum as rent because they were used by the staff only for reporting to work and PRTC's managaing director was aware of this.
When asked about the procedure adopted by the PRTC authorities to allot the space for these offices among the private bus operators, he said he was not aware of it. He was also ignorant about the last time the rent of these offices was revised.
When contacted, in-charge of Orbit transport at Bathinda bus stand, Tejinder Singh said that the company was paying Rs 1,000 as rent and Rs 300 for electricity consumption but added that the process to review these charges was going on these days. However, contradicting him, Bharu, representative of Deep transport, claimed that his company was paying Rs 5,000 per month which included Rs 3,500 as rent and Rs 1,5 00 for power.