Friday, October 20, 2000,
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Punjab hikes bus fares
1,053 schools to be upgraded
By Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Oct 19 The Punjab Government today jacked up bus fares in the state.

According to information available at the official level, the bus fares have been increased by 2 paise per km. Earlier, the fare was 39 paise per km and this has been enhanced to 41 paise.

Official sources said that a notification pertaining to the hike in the fares was issued this afternoon following government approval of the proposal.

The new fares became operative with immediate effect.

The increase has been ordered to compensate for the rise in the diesel bill of the PRTC and Punjab Roadways, both state government-owned organisations. The monthly bill of these organisations had gone up by Rs 1.75 crore because of the increase in the diesel price. Having a fleet of 1,025 buses, the PRTC covers about 3.25 lakh km daily. Punjab Roadways has over 2,300 buses and covers a distance almost double that of the PRTC buses. Official sources said that with the hike in the fares, the increase in the diesel bill of both these organisations would be off-set.

As the increase is around 5 per cent, the decision to enhance the fares has been taken at the State Transport Department level after discussing the matter with the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Official sources said there was no need to take the case pertaining to the hike in the bus fares to the states Cabinet as it was less than 10 per cent. The government had made provision a few months ago that any hike in the bus fares up to 10 per cent could be ordered at the department level in the case of a rise in the price of diesel.

For the past three weeks, both the PRTC and Punjab Roadways authorities had been pressing the state government to enhance the fares to off-set the financial burden caused by the hike in the diesel price ordered on September 29 by the Union Government. However, as it was a sensitive issue, affecting people in large numbers in the state, the Transport Department authorities waited for clearance from the Transport Minister and the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Council of Ministers here today approved the upgradation of 1,053 schools in the state. A government spokesman said that in each constituency nine schools had been upgraded.

Out of these schools, 351 have been upgraded from primary to middle, and the same number from middle to high. As many schools (351) have been upgraded from high to the senior secondary level.

The government also decided to fill 7,230 vacant posts of JBT\ ETT teacher in primary schools. These posts have been withdrawn from the purview of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, it is learnt.

The council also granted approval to road and bridge projects worth Rs 2,215 crore to be undertaken by the Infrastructure Development Board. These include the four-laning of the Chandigarh-Ludhiana highway, the widening of the Ludhiana-Moga highway, the Khanna-Nawanshahr road, the Zirakpur-Patiala highway and the four-laning of the Chandigarh-Ambala road. The government would raise Rs 1,245 crore through bonds for completing these projects.

The council also decided to transfer the building of the Industrial Institute, Bulepur (Khanna), to Indira Gandhi National Open University for setting up a regional centre in the state.
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