Badal’s pilgrimage scheme: Govt owes PRTC Rs 1.75 crore
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) is yet to receive pending dues of over Rs 1.75 crore for providing free bus service for the previous Akali government’s much-hyped Mukh Mantri Tirath Darshan Yatra scheme, which ended five months ago.
The Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government had launched the scheme six months before the Punjab assembly elections. Under it, PRTC buses were used to ferry people to pilgrimage spots across the state for free. The scheme was shut before the imposition of the model code of conduct and was later scrapped by the incumbent Congress government in its first cabinet meeting.
Besides ferrying people, the PRTC also bore the cost of accommodation and food for the pilgrims and had submitted claims worth Rs 4.35 crore to the state government, which paid only Rs 2.6 crore in instalments. It still owes the PRTC Rs 1.75 crore.
A senior PRTC official said that at the time of the scheme’s launch, the SAD-BJP government had assured the corporation cash payments on the basis of occupancy of seats.
“However, even after five months, the corporation has not been paid. Several communiqués and reminders have been sent to both the finance and transport departments to clear payments at the earliest,” the official said.
The official further added that a meeting was also held in this regard with high-ups of the transport department, who suggested that instead of depositing the amount in the corporation’s account, the government could adjust the remaining dues in road tax that it is yet to pay. PRTC facing financial crises The transport corporation is presently facing a financial crisis and is making stopgap arrangements to meet daily expenditures. Against the total monthly income of around Rs 39 crore, the PRTC’s expenditure is pegged at Rs 46 crore.
PRTC managing director Manjit Singh Narang said the matter will be taken up with the state government again to urge it to release of the remaining dues immediately. “We will take a decision accordingly to whether or not the government asks us to adjust the amount in road tax payments,” he said.
Under the pilgrimage scheme, the state government offered free bus service to Salasar dham in Rajasthan, newly-opened heritage walk in the precincts of Golden Temple and war heroes’ memorial and museum in Amritsar.