Four months after its foundation stone-laying ceremony, the fate of the inter-state bus terminus (ISBT) project in Karnal, the chief minister’s constituency, is hanging in balance.
Shifting of the bus stand from the existing busy locality in the heart of the city was one of the major issues in Karnal in the recently held assembly elections. Its location is a cause for traffic logjam.
Officials of the state transport department said even if the project was cleared, work would not commence before March next due to official procedural reasons.
Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s regime was criticised by various political parties for its failure in meeting the long-pending demand to shift the ISBT during its 10-year tenure.
At the fag end of his second consecutive tenure as chief minister, Hooda had laid the foundation stone of the ISBT at Sector 12 on August 1. The move was seen as a step to appease voters.
Though the Hooda government had approved the project, it lacked several other clearances, including a budgetary provision for the development project.
In 2004, the-then chief minister Om Prakash Chautala had allotted an open space opposite the mini-secretariat in Sector 12 near the NH-1 as the alternative site but owing to alleged lack of political will the proposal did not materialise.
Challenges in the project
During his visit to Karnal on Saturday, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had said work on the new ISBT would be taken on priority for the development of Karnal, the segment being represented by him.
As per the latest proposal, a bus lay-by would be made on the NH-1 as the buses going towards the Ambala-Delhi side may not be allowed to enter the proposed ISBT to avoid congestion. Only buses from Delhi will have access to the proposed ISBT.
Officials said the project was more of a political compulsion for the previous Hooda government and that the site earlier tagged non-feasible was okayed as a face-saving exercise before going to polls.
Last year, a site screening committee constituted by the district administration for the project had recommended alternative sites, including near the Balri bypass, ITI Chowk and Karana Lake.
All these sites, too, were rejected on the grounds of land ownership issues, being far away from the city area and that finalisation of these sites would increase pressure of auto-rickshaws and other means of public transport on the NH.
While rejecting the Sector-12 site, it was argued that the flyover would restrict the movement of buses towards the sector. But the objections were overruled by the previous state government and it decided to construct ISBT without much planning.
Officials said if the ISBT comes up at the Sector-12 site it would jeopardise the traffic management in the city and provide a little help to the city residents who want to use bus service.
“In 2010, the elevated highway project was started and a well-coordinated step with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) could lead to building plan of the elevated stretch to ensure smooth access to the proposed ISBT. Now when the elevated highway is fully functional, construction of elevated accesses road would cost `25 crore and it is an unwise planning,” said an official familiar with the project.
Meanwhile, general manager, roadways Ravinder Pathak said on Monday that the state architecture department was engaged in the project.
“After completion of designing, the proposal would be sent to the state government for its approval and the public works department (PWD) is expected to construct ISBT. In all likelihood, its construction work may start by March next year,” said Pathak.
He said 9-acre land, which was owned by HUDA at the proposed site had been transferred in the name of the state transport department.
“There is a proposal to shift the roadways workshop to a 5-acre land, owned by the state horticulture department, located on the NH 1 near Balri bypass,” he said.