Transport mafia runs riot at Bathinda ISBT; oil tankers enter to fuel pvt buses
100-odd mini-buses paying Rs 30-40 each time they exit to henchmen operating from a kiosk at the stand for operating without permit; no one know where this money goespunjab Updated: Aug 12, 2017 10:03 IST
A parallel transport mafia has surfaced at the city’s Inter-state Bus Terminus (ISBT). Each of the 100-odd mini buses using the stand deposits a ‘tax’ of Rs 30-40 per exit to the henchmen deployed at the counter. This collection of money is illegal and the administration does not get a penny out of it. The money is paid for the tacit assurance that these mini-buses can ply on lucrative routes — Bathinda-Goniana and Bathinda-Bhuccho — without acquiring any government permit.
- Data from the administration that HT has accessed reveals that 26 of 29 (90%) mini-buses ply illegally with no permits on the 25-km Bathinda-Goniana route. Of 93 trips daily on the route, 67 are unauthorised. On the Bathinda-Bhuccho route, 32 of total 37 mini-buses (87%) ply illegally.
Data backs the existence of the transport mafia. Official data that HT has accessed reveals that 26 of 29 (90%) mini-buses ply illegally with no permits on the 25-km Bathinda-Goniana route. Of 93 trips daily on the route, 67 are unauthorised. On the Bathinda-Bhuccho route, 32 of total 37 mini-buses (87%) ply illegally. This means that Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) is being driven out of the business.
To raise this illegal plying of mini-buses, a delegation of PRTC Employee Union met SDM-cum-Regional Transport Authority (RTA) Sakhshi Sahni on Thursday.
Oil tankers enter bus stand
A bizarre and even dangerous illegality that has now become routine at the ISBT is oil canters entering the facility to fuel private buses. This is a violation of almost every safety norm in the book. The fact that the SDM, who is also the RTA, has her office just a few hundred metres away adds to the brazenness of it all.
Illegal kiosks another headache
Inside the ISBT, kiosks for selling tickets have also come up in an illegal manner. Notwithstanding the Congress regime in the state, the Akalis’ political clout looms large as, according to the PRTC, these are ‘encroached spaces’. Yet, these have now been functioning for years. The Orbit Transport Company of the Badals is in possession of one such kiosk. The second in the possession of New Deep Transport of Hardeep Singh Dimpy Dhillon, the Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) Gidderbaha ‘Halqa’ incharge.
On paper, they claim to be paying a nominal rent of Rs 1,000 a month. Other kiosks are paying a rent between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 a month. Even the operator of the exit kiosk that collects money illegally from mini-buses claims that it pays a monthly rent of Rs 1,000.
Preparing eviction notices, says GM
When contacted, Bathinda ISBT general manager Surinder Singh, said, “We are preparing eviction notices to get these kiosks vacated. There has never been any agreement on these kiosks between private transport companies and the PRTC.”
On the illegal tax on mini-buses, he said, “The transport department needs to stop these mini-buses. The PRTC cannot allow kiosks on its property to collect such tax. We will soon uproot it.”
Transporter admits to paying ‘fee to bus union’
An operator of a private bus fleet Avtar Singh admits that a few of his buses were running without permit and even admitted to paying the illegal fee to the mafia at the exit kiosk. “This amount collected from the mini-buses et al goes to the bus operators’ union,” he said. However, there is no official claimant of the money that is collected, illegally, at the kiosk every day.
“Oil tankers will not be allowed to move inside the ISBT as this can lead to a blast,” said SDM Sakhshi Sahni.