Thursday, January 4, 2007

Public Sector -- Hahh!

The the decision of AP government to shut down non performing APSRTC depots has come as a shock to all the APSRTC employees. Their arguments for closing down the depots are RTC is already in loss. In order to bring it into profits they have decided to close loss making depots. But the people are realising that it has closed only depots in those areas where the elected members are not of the ruling party. They have pointed out that eventhough geeta reddy's constituency buggaram is also a loss making depot but it is not closed whereas dubbaka where there is no ruling party leader has to face the music.

Eventhough the government has made it clear that only the depot will be closed but the services will not be affected, it cannot be trusted fully. If the buses are not starting from the depot then inevitably they have to come from other depots which are atleast 60kms far from present depot which means timings of the buses will surely change. It would affect the students most who go to the nearest towns to study. If the bus timings change or the buses are completely stopped in the route because only few people are travelling, then obviously students cant go to schools and colleges on time and government will have to take the blame. Again all the depots which are being closed are in rural areas where there is not much traffic and if suddenly the depot is closed and buses in all loss making routes are withdrawn then surely for lot of tribal villages in Adilabad ( in proximity of Utnur depot which is closed) and Khammam( in proximity of Madhira) will suddenly have no means of transport available to them. The effect will not only be on the passengers but also on the people who have indirectly depended on the bus depot for their survival( traders).

But finally the main argument is RTC being a public sector operation, its main aim being providing bus facility to people should not only think about profitability but should also consider the social aspects before closing the depots. It is argued that it should even take the profits from other sources to provide the bus facility to all the people like electricity ( which the govt provides free of cost to farmers). The RTC has to make a study to know the routes in these depots which are profitable. It should run the buses in these routes. It should also get to know the loss making routes and the reasons for that ( whether it is excessive private competion or less travel) and take the decision accordingly( to give an ultimatum to the people to increase the occupancy or to close buses on the route). There was a study of RTC by IIMB last year which was not used. It is high time the government used the reports it prepared for the development of RTC and not take sudden decisions like this without necessary debate

As I write this article I came to know that due to the publicity in teh media and the timely action of the the opppsition parties and the strikes and dharnas done yesterday, the government has gone back on its decision and has stopped closing down of the depots.The silver lining is that it has planned to start new bus depots.!!

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