Saturday, October 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bus fare hike withdrawn
By Sarbjit Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Oct 20 — In less than 24 hours, the Punjab Government has withdrawn the notification pertaining to the hike in bus fares.

Without assigning any reason, the government in a brief statement today said that it had “withdrawn the 2 paise per km hike in bus fares in the state with immediate effect”. It further said that the notification issued earlier in this connection had been withdrawn.

The notification hiking the bus fares was issued yesterday and the officers concerned had been directed to implement the new rates with immediate effect. Inquiries made by TNS at the local bus stand revealed that bus conductors had started charging the new fares from passengers immediately after 3 p.m. yesterday as the officers concerned had told them to do so. “It was an express order of the authorities and was implemented within 10 minutes after it was conveyed to us”, said two conductors on booking duty at the bus stand.

However, the state government was equally quick as far as the withdrawal of the bus fare hike was concerned. Early this morning a message was flashed to all district managers of Punjab Roadways and the Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation directing them to stop charging the new rates. “We got the message around 7 a.m. to discontinue the charging of the new fares and it was enforced instantly”, said officials at the bus stand. The authorities had also told us to convey the message to other places in the districts.

Informed official sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, held a meeting with the Minister of Transport, Mr Raghbir Singh, and the Principal Secretary, Transport Department, Mrs Tejinder Kaur, this afternoon at his (Mr Badal) residence where the bus fare hike was discussed in detail. The Minister reportedly made his department’s position clear on this issue. He told Mr Badal that the state government had empowered the department to enhance bus fares up to 10 per cent at its own level in the case of any hike in the diesel price.

The Punjab Roadways and PRTC authorities had urged the Transport Department to increase the bus fares in the light of the hike in the price of diesel. Following this a proposal was mooted by the authorities to the state government to increase the fares.

Sources said the expected adverse political implications of this decision made Mr Badal direct the Transport Department to withdraw the notification. As The Tribune broke the story today regarding the hike in the bus fares, a number of political leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP reacted sharply opposing this hike. They discreetly told the Chief Minister that such a decision at the stage, when the Vidhan Sabha elections were only about a year away, could prove costly for the government and a convenient handle to the Opposition to attack the ruling combine with.

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