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Posted at: Apr 15, 2018, 2:43 AM; last updated: Apr 15, 2018, 2:43 AM (IST)

GMADA halts old bus stand’s illegal run

In early morning action, digs up 4-acre site worth crores at Phase VIII, takes back its possession

Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 14

The 25-year-old bus stand at Phase VIII here was finally demolished by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) during a five-hour-long on Saturday morning.

With its action, GMADA not only closed down the irregular bus stand but also took back the possession of its around four-acre prime land, worth several crores and a few metres from prominent institutions like PUDA Bhawan, Vikas Bhawan, Fortis Hospital and Punjab School Education Board office.

A GMADA team, along with police force and over 10 JCB machines and other paraphernalia, kicked off the exercise at around 6 am. The team directed two-three shopkeepers running small canteen and eatable counters and drivers of a few private buses parked there to vacate the site immediately. Soon, the JCB machines started demolishing the cemented floor at the bus stand.

According to an eyewitness, some drivers tried to offer resistance, but the police controlled the situation.

The JCB machines first dug around 4-ft-deep pit from the entrance to the exit of the bus stand so that no vehicle could enter the premises. Later, the entire site was dug up. After a couple of hours, huge pits dotted the entire site.

“On getting information, some local Akali leaders, along with their party’s municipal councillors also reached the site and lodged a protest. However, officials sent them back immediately,” said a member of the GMADA team. After the JCBs had dug up the site, GMADA workers fenced the site with barbed wire. GMADA Chief Administrator Ravi Bhagat said the bus stand was illegal and was already closed down in the GMADA records. “The authorised bus stand of the town is at Phase VI. The one at Phase VIII had been functioning illegally ever since the new ISBT came up. It is GMADA land and we took possession of it,” said Bhagat. It was in December 2016 that the new ISBT was inaugurated at Phase VI. 

 “The old bus stand site is earmarked as an institutional site. We would auction it soon after deciding on the type of institution to be developed there,” said Bhagat.

Congress MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu, who was instrumental in restart of the bus stand in March last year, termed the development as an anti-people step. “The old bus stand was convenient for residents of Phase VII, IX, X and XI, new sectors and certain villages. As the town has no local bus service of its own, the residents of these areas will face difficulties in reaching the new ISBT. I will take up the matter with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh,” said Sidhu. 

Satvir Singh Dhanoa, area councillor, said, “I neither support nor oppose the GMADA step. I only want some alternative arrangement in place so that passengers from this area do not have to face any problem.”

Meanwhile, after GMADA took possession of the site, private bus operators parked their buses at open place around the bus stand. “My employer told me to pick passengers from outside the bus stand,” said Kulwant Singh, a private bus driver.

Was being used by pvt operators for one year

After the new ISBT came up last year, the old one started catering to private bus operators only. Around 400 private buses operated from the old bus stand daily. The Phase VIII bus stand was rendered irregular as in a contract with C&C Company, which is handling the new ISBT project, the state government had agreed on the condition that there would be no other bus stand in a radius of 5 km from the new facility. The distance (crow flight) between the two bus stands is less than 5 km.

Was opened in ’93

The bus stand was inaugurated in 1993 by the then Punjab CM Beant Singh. After 23 years, the SAD government ordered its closure after Baba Banda Singh Bahadur ISBT was inaugurated at Phase VI. After remaining closed for around three months, the bus stand resumed operations at the behest of Mohali MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu in March last year.

Previous GMADA bid was foiled

The enforcement wing of GMADA had tried to shut down the bus stand in December last year by sending its staff along with a JCB machine. However, the attempt was foiled by private bus operators and transporters. “The number of passengers and buses on Saturday was lower than on working days. The day and time of action was selected on purpose,” said a senior official of GMADA.

What they said...

The old bus stand was convenient for residents of Phase VII, IX, X and XI, new sectors and certain villages. As the town has no local bus service of its own, residents will face difficulties in reaching the new ISBT. I will take up the matter with CM Capt Amarinder Singh. — Balbir Singh Sidhu, Cong MLA

}The authorised bus stand of the town is at Phase VI. The one at Phase VIII had been functioning illegally ever since the new ISBT came up. It is GMADA land and we took possession of it. — Ravi Bhagat, Chief Administrator, GMADA

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