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Bus transport system in State in a mess
A vast majority of the common people of Odisha largely depend on bus transport but the condition of bus terminals in the State is in the worst conditions without any improvement.
The two major cities bus terminals of the State, Badambadi of Cuttack and Baramunda of Khurda districts, have been in most bad shape, without even basic amenities such as toilet, urinals, drinking water, waiting space and hygienic eateries for passengers and transport crews though every day hundreds of buses and thousands of passengers depend on these stations.
These places are not being maintained properly by the Government and remain as deserted places though these places play an important role in bus based public transport system. The bus stands in the State are also known for criminal activities by anti-social elements and become most unsafe place for women, children, elderly and other innocent people travelling by bus. It is a fact that due to this unsafe situation and lack of safety and security, usually people do not prefer to stay in bus stands in the night hour and avoid travelling. There is also lack of proper night shelter and security arrangement for passengers in almost all bus stands of the State though a number of buses usually travel at night.
It is not just these two city based bus stands but almost all bus stations which do not have proper boundary wall, lighting facilities and security arrangements for public. The physical condition of these places are most dirty and unsafe without drainage system and proper garbage management facility and mostly in rainy seasons, these are horrible places and in summer also the atmosphere becomes dusty. It is sometimes inconvenient for the passengers to enter inside the bus stand. The minimum amenities for public in such places are not available and whatever available are not being maintained by the authorities in spite of expenditure of the Government under maintenance heads.
The people of the State are familiar with this kind of abandoned condition of public places and habituated with adjustment to such situation that continues to remain unnoticed by the State Government and departments dedicated for the purpose.
The bus terminals of Odisha are most underdeveloped and backward in comparison to others States such as AP, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where the condition of the bus stand and related facilities for the passengers are much better. There are about 62 State road transport undertakings since 1950 to carry out the job of bus based public conveyance in the country. Many southern States have taken a lead and adopted ideal practices in managing the bus terminals by providing quality service to the passengers while maintaining the place in handling huge passengers every day. The Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal is Asia’s largest one in managing thousands of buses and lakhs of passengers every day. The inter-State bus terminal Kashmirgate, Delhi, Kempaguda bus station, Bangalore, Vadodara bus station, bus terminals in Madurai, Vijayawada, Hyderabad, and Guntur have been models of not only good infrastructure, but also quality standards. It is expected that the most ideal bus stations must have good waiting space for passengers, quality hygienic food courts, retail shops, budget hotels, Wi-Fi zones, CCTV, drinking water and toilet facilities and cleanness, besides passenger safety and security. Many of the bus stations of the country managed by their respective State Government have already achieved such standard in providing quality service to the common passengers. It has not only improved the business prospective, but also exhibited a very effective developed system and improved quality of public transport system for the common man. It is a fact that majority of Indians depend on public transport because as per census 2011 it was only 21 per cent of households who have two wheelers and only 5 per cent households have vans /car and jeeps though the motor vehicle population in the country is lowest as per international average and there has been shirking space with raising population. The cities are crowded with vehicles and suffer enormous sound and air pollution.
The public transport services are operational by both private and Government buses, but mostly the management of the bus terminals lies with the transport department of the Government. The State Government has to build necessary infrastructure for public transport by allocating required land and making available electricity, water and waste management facilities and deploy adequate security personnel to maintain law and order.
The status of bus based public transport facilities in Odisha remains backward in all respect though there has been enough scope of developing connectivity within the State. Especially, the coastal areas need to be connected with the interior parts of south west and northwest areas for a balanced regional development. But many of the interior parts of the State have not been connected so far. The coastal ports, air ways, railway stations, major cities and industrial areas must be connected to the all blocks of the States so that people can have access to all these places for education, business, trade and commerce, tourism and all kinds of employment opportunities. In this context, bus transport plays a very vital role in linking people from all over the State and it facilitates 24-hour mobility of the people in low cost and in most informal ways.
The OSRTC has been playing a very important role with its transport service for last 40 years. The bus service of the corporation is having one of the lowest numbers, a fleet of about 470 buses, in comparison to the transport corporations of other States. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have a fleet of about 24,000 and Kerala has about 6,500 buses under ownership of their State corporations. The standard norm is per ten lakh population there must be 400 buses. The OSRTC has introduced Volvo coach, Ac Deluxe, Express coach, Hi -tech, Marco polo coach and also other ordinary express for passengers from interior parts, especially south western parts, but there has been requirement of more number of quality buses to all parts of the State. Though the State Government has hosted Biju Goan Gadi Yojana in interior parts but it has very insignificantly been contributing to public transport system in interior parts of the State. The 23 bus depots are not being managed well by the corporation and there has been no sign of improvement in terms of infrastructure of these depots. For a long time, the State Government has been making slow progress in building infrastructure for bus terminals in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Angul, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Brahmapur through public- private partnership but unfortunately the Government has not paid any attention to bring change in the existing condition of all the State bus stands.
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