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Private firm to maintain bus stand

By Our Special Correspondent

The slush and garbage at the Salem central Bus stand. — Photo: P. Goutham

SALEM, NOV. 3 . The Salem citizens and those who frequent the city, the main transit point in the western part of the State for destinations such as Coimbatore, Chennai and Bangalore, have been undergoing agonising experiences at the new Central bus stand.

The bus stand is the main nerve centre for thousands of commuters. Apart from serving as the originating point for about 500 buses, it also serves for hundreds of other buses that criss-cross the city from Bangalore, Coimbatore and Chennai. But its appalling conditions on sanitation have drawn flak from those who sport civic sense.

Picture of neglect

The Salem Corporation, which has been maintaining it, has failed to address the issues of sanitation that confront the bus stand for long. As a result, the major public asset has been permitted to degenerate. Stinking urinals, broken chairs, faulty water coolers and heaps of garbage portray it as a nauseating picture of neglect and decay.

On rainy days, the bus stand becomes from bad to worse. It will float with knee-deep water. With all its drainage channels closed by those who reside near-by, the water will stagnate inside like a big pond.

The drainage canal on its western side is being choked with waste construction materials. No Corporation official has taken any action so far against those who dump debris. Hence, water will drain out only after an hour or so. But by then many would have suffered bruises and some of them even seriously.

On normal days, the entire bus stand will stink. Despite the presence of a few sanitary staff, its conditions are quite deplorable. They sweep the garbage from one corner to another and will never remove. Frustrated at the repeated failures in its attempt to keep the bus stand "neat and tidy," the Corporation has taken the decision of handing over the "maintenance and beautification'' of the stand to a private organisation in the city. The firm also will undertake an awareness programme for those who use this bus stand on how to maintain it.

Mega project

The private non-governmental organisation, "AVR Swarnapuri Mahal" has been accorded permission to take up this mega project. The entire cost will be borne by the organisation, which has plans to convert it into a "Beautiful Bus terminal" in the State. It has decided to erect name boards, garbage bins, good chairs, wall clocks and timetables for trains and buses in the bus stand. It also will employ its staff to remove the garbage and maintain the free toilets.

The Corporation has also decided to permit this organisation to undertake these works under the guidance of Corporation officials and well within the ambit of Corporation rules.

The agreement on the maintenance works of the bus stand between the Corporation and the organisation should be renewed once in three years. The Corporation, however, reserves the right to call off the agreement at any time.

"The Corporation with its limited infrastructure has tried to maintain it clean. But the users who mostly come from villages and other towns refuse to co-operate. They litter everywhere and urinate at all places thus making our task difficult. We have to post men round the clock at various points to discourage people from urinating in open spaces in the bus stand," says a senior Corporation official. The citizens, however, are now happy at the sincere effort being taken up to keep the Salem Central bus stand clean and of course transforming it beautiful.

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