Forced out of ISBT, bus operators running in losses

September 24th, 2010 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

By Suhas Munshi
New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) At Delhi’s busiest and oldest bus terminus - Kashmere Gate Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT) - one may encounter waterways instead of pathways, an eerie silence instead of shrill cries of touts and children swimming where one would otherwise expect parked buses.

For the past three days, operations at the bus terminus have come to a complete halt because of waterlogging at the complex.

The operations have been shifted and make-shift arrangements have been made on the busy ring road - around 100 meters away from the complex. However, it hasn’t helped the harried commuters much.

“I went to the bus terminus but they said it’s been shifted. But on reaching the place, I was surprised to see the state of affairs. It was pandemonium there, everyone was confused,” said Pankaj Singh, a student.

The ad-hoc measures made to keep the bus terminus running are proving inadequate and detrimental for the bus operators and causing a great inconvenience to commuters.

“Now, we have to rush to catch seats in the bus, where otherwise we’d be sitting comfortably. I think it is wiser to travel in trains these days,” said Anil Yadav, a passenger looking for a bus to Haridwar.

It is this state of affair that Joseph Heller in 1961 famously termed as ‘Catch 22′.

“They don’t let us park buses on the road lest it lead to a traffic jam on the busy ring road. Since we have to keep the buses moving, we’re virtually plying empty buses,” said Prem Singh, cheif inspector of Haryana Roadways.

Singh also said the business has been running at an all time low and several passengers have been turning back after failing to get the required information and transport.

“Traffic police harass us. They don’t let the buses wait for passengers. It is understandable that they want to avoid traffic jams but whom do we hold accountable for the mounting losses,” lamented Ram Bhaj, president of Haryana roadways workers’ union.

Moreover, the makeshift arrangement is without drinking water and sanitation facilities.

“These squalid conditions, especially in the absence of lavatories, are extremely trying for a woman,” he added.

“Rain and flood waters have entered the complex in the past, but never in the twenty years of my service have I found the system in such a crippled state. We don’t even have basic facilities like drinking water and electricity at the makeshift complex,” said Puran Chand, station supervisor of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU).

Expressing helplessness at the state of affairs, Municipal Corporation of Delhi councillor Uma Sharma said that nothing can be done till the water level of the Yamuna river declines.

“We cannot do anything till the level recedes to 205 metres. Only then will the pumps be effective in draining the large quantity of water out of the complex,” she said.

The city has been keenly watching Yamuna water level rise and recede during the past few days. Earlier this month, a discharge of over six lakh cusecs of water from Haryana had caused a flood threat. On Wednesday night, Yamuna crossed the 207 metre-mark - choking most of the drainage and sewage pipelines of the city.

However, the water level receded Friday with Yamuna flowing at 206.12 metres. The danger mark is 204.83 metres.

With passengers turning away and losses mounting, the tour operators say it is high time that the authorities take steps to avoid such a sorry state of affairs in the future.

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