The transfer of Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) managing director (MD) Manjit Singh Narang has raised eyebrows as in his short stint of 10 months, he managed to improve the fiscal health of the loss-making PRTC.
Narang challenged the monopoly of private bus operators by introducing a fleet of 250 new buses, 100 buses under the kilometre scheme, 26 HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) buses, eight Volvo and four Sweden-made super luxury buses costing Rs 1 crore each. He transformed the PRTC into a unit that can take the influential (read politicians) private transporters head-on.
Instead of rewarding him, the government removed him from the MD’s post, which he was holding in addition to the post of special secretary (transport). Narang is the second officer to be removed from the post despite his good performance. Earlier, DPS Kharbanda had turned the fortunes of the PRTC, but was also removed.
“It’s a shocker as Narang managed to improve the corporation’s precarious financial health. The PRTC was making a loss of Rs 30 lakh per day, but he took several steps and managed to bring it out from the black phase of debt-ridden transport corporation,” said Balkar Singh, a PRTC union leader.
Though Narang refused to comment, a PRTC official said he revived routes covering nearly 90,000 kilometres a day, which were being exploited by private players. Earlier, the PRTC was not able to provide services on many profitable routes due to shortage of buses and was covering only 2.25 lakh kilometres per day. Narang took the per day mileage to 3.3 lakh kilometres. Due to his innovative steps, the daily income of the corporation shot up by Rs 30 lakh, he added. The PRTC earns Rs 35 per kilometre.
The official said what pinched the private players the most was the introduction of low-fare Volvo buses and super luxury buses. While the PRTC luxury bus fare to the Delhi airport is Rs 650, private operators charge anything between Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,400. Narang also reduced the PRTC debt by nearly Rs 100 crore in his 10-month tenure.
It is for the first time that the PRTC is running its full fleet of 1,075 buses. Earlier, the corporation use to run 800-850 buses daily. The routes missed by the PRTC were allotted to influential private operators.
When insisted to comment, Narang said: “I am satisfied that I performed my duty well. The government also supported my efforts to revive the corporation. I hope my successor will continue the good work.”
Despite several attempts, transport minister Ajit Singh Kohar could not be contacted for comments.