Sunday, February 25, 2007

Inter-state Transport - the Delhi-UP Border Bus Impasse

Around three months back, I had written an article about how the ego clash between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh officials is causing a lot of problems for passengers traveling between the two states. In a nutshell, buses from the UP side were terminated at the UP border and Delhi Transport Corporation's buses to Uttar Pradesh were also stopped at the border.

Earlier, passengers were able to take these buses to their final destinations. But this has now changed and for the worse. So, now if one takes the example of passengers at the border near Anand Vihar Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT), a passenger who wants to travel to a UP town has to first take a bus to the ISBT, then make his way through the crowd to the UP side and then catch another bus from there. This is very inconvenient for passengers, specially for the ones who have children and luggage.

And why did this happen? Due to ego clashes between the Delhi and UP officials. The most interesting bit is that this is only done to block the state owned buses, and not the private operators. A lot of the private operators have connections with the politicians on either side and hence they will never be affected in such decision making.

After November, a lot of water has flowed down the Yamuna. A court asked the officials to get together to device a solution and at frequent intervals, there are comments in the paper about how the officials from the two states are meeting to resolve this issue.

What do we expect from government and officialdom? That they continue to take measures that will make the life of citizens easier. Is this too much to ask ? This should be top priority at least for the Transport ministers of each state. But that is ideal life; in reality the situation is very different. The top officials and ministers do not get impacted by such a decision or by such suffering, so they don't feel the pain.

If one asks people on the road who are the ones affected by this impasse, they are mostly very pessimistic about a solution and are actually happy about private services being removed from the dispute and being available for inter-state transportation.

And now UP will be in the election mode and unlikely to be able to resolve such a situation for the next few months. So, in the midst of Delhi's intense summer, suffering passengers will have to trundle in the heat and dust to complete their travel. I pass this place on a daily basis and the suffering that I can see on the face of passengers is evident.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:13 AM