The reinstatement of Manjit Singh Narang as the new managing director of Pepsu Road Transportation Corporation (PRTC) on the heels of assuming helm of affairs by the newly formed Congress government, has garnered reverential remarks from the trade unions’ fraternity.
Prior to Narang’s previous stint as MD in 2015 the PRTC’s fiscal health was in dire straits when it was coerced to battle the onslaught waged upon it by a complete monopoly of private bus companies in the transport sector primarily by the ruling Badals and their associates in the state.
The intentions of the Congress government are crystal clear as immediately after assuming power, it has announced to takeoff around 7,400 private buses off road to do away with impediments and elevate the stature of public transport in the state.
Following the censure of the Punjab and Haryana high court with regard to its ever mounting debts to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees, PRTC was on course to auction its obsolete properties to clear the pending dues. But right after assuming the charge, Narang with his sheer diligence and innovative decisions turned the fortunes for PRTC by strengthening its fiscal health.
The future of PRTC headed into precarious footing until January 2015 as PRTC was missing out on meeting its daily sanctioned mileage of 3.30 lakh kms, Narang got the loan sanctioned from the Punjab Infrastructural Board (PIDB) by diligently following up with top officials of the transport department and the government to introduce 275 new buses to complete the sanctioned 1,075 buses (earlier 800 buses were running) fleet to meet the daily sanctioned mileage in 2015.
Narang who is an IAS, is waiting for a non-objection certificate (NOC) from the election commission (EC) as he was additional chief electoral officer, Punjab this assembly elections, to formally take charge of PRTC on April 5.
Until now (2014), citing mounting liabilities around 275 buses were shelved (taken-off road) over the years and PRTC was sustaining losses of token amount to the tune of approximately Rs 3.50 lakh (Rs 3 per km) daily. But the introduction of new buses, not only provided much needed thrust to the PRTC to meet its daily sanctioned distance (mileage) but also surged the monthly profit of corporation (PRTC) by Rs 9 crore which was utilised to clear all dues. It was during Narang’s regime that the retired employees of PRTC started receiving their pensions on time. A source in the state transport department, requesting anonymity, revealed that with new buses hitting the roads all across the state, the monopoly of the private bus operators including those owing allegiance to the influential politicians was challenged who sensed a major threat to their business prospects.
Surprisingly, Narang was transferred merely 11 months (December 2015) after remaining at the helm of PRTC. The source added that the decision was triggered only after he took the bull by its horns.
Subsequently, the state transport and government drawn flak of transport and trade unions all across the state to remove an official who had earned the reputation of not only putting life back in PRTC especially when it ceased to exist but also assisted in curbing corruption in the transport sector.
Indian National Trade Union Congress general secretary Suresh Sood said, “The increased revenue generation with improved passenger base and introduction of new routes enabled the PRTC to release a pending pensions worth Rs 5.8 crore in a phased manner. And around 3,000 pensioners in the 10 depots in the state received their pensions on time.
Talking to HT, Manjit Narang said, “Linking the international airport in New Delhi with every depot in the state will be a top priority while the fleet of existing buses will also be increased as per the current requirements. And concrete steps will be taken for the safety and convenience of bus travellers in the state.”