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Tribune Exclusive 
State revenue on a platter to pvt player
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 10
In what could be an act of financial imprudence on the part of the previous Congress-led government in Punjab, a Baroda-based company was handed over the working and earnings — running into crores of rupees annually — from the important bus terminuses in Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

The input cost of the investor, including interest, and exigency is no more than Rs 27 crore while the constant earnings would be nearly Rs 125-130 crore for the period the terminuses have been handed over to the private player. All this was okayed despite glaring differences pointed out by officials in their notings while dealing with the subject.

Sources said transport minister Mohan Lal and the senior SAD leadership are livid at how state revenue was “parcelled” out to the private player on a platter.

An inquiry has been initiated into one aspect of the project: how the private player allegedly deviated from the approved design of the bus stand in Jalandhar. The sources said this could be like removing the first layer of what all happened while allocating the entire project.

At both terminuses, more than 3,000 buses come or go daily. The investor has been allowed to get all revenue generated from the bus stands — anything between Rs 6 crore and Rs 8 crore for each of them annually. The revenue will include the adda fee paid at Rs 40 per bus, rent collected from shops, leasing out of commercial space to advertisers and also the collection of parking fee from visitors. The terminuses are located in the heart of the two cities and command huge commercial value.

The investor is constructing new buildings at both places. That is the only one-time cost. The new terminus in Jalandhar will cost about Rs 14 crore and the one in Ludhiana about Rs 13.47 crore. In return, the investor will get all earnings for eight years and five months from Jalandhar and for 10 years and three months from Ludhiana. The revenue for Jalandhar is calculated at Rs 5.36 crore annually, increasing gradually up to Rs 8 crore. For Ludhiana, the revenue is Rs 5.38 crore annually and will increase gradually to Rs 8 crore. This means the investor will earn about Rs 125-130 crore during this period while the cost of maintaining the two terminuses is no more than Rs 1 crore per year.

And these are official figures, said the sources, adding that unofficial figures of the earnings could be much higher as rentals from leasing out space for hoardings or commercial space to shopkeepers would rise and not decrease. Similarly, under the contract signed by the Punjab government the adda fee will also rise to Rs 50 per bus.

The sources said a bus terminus is a monopoly, as all buses, private or government, have to halt there and pick up or drop passengers. The revenue-generating model for the private player was questioned but overruled by the then Congress regime.

There should have been some revenue sharing for the government or some exemption on adda fee for its own buses, said official sources.

The ruling SAD-BJP combine has launched an inquiry as to how the private company changed the roof design in Jalandhar and adopted an altogether new section.

The width of the passenger concourse, where long-route buses arrive, has been reduced while the aesthetically designed domes of the building have not been 
constructed.

Notice has been served on the engineers of the project for allowing the deviation, officials confirmed.

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