Advocate commissioners wonder how could it be, despite paying Rs. 3 lakh a month to a private organisation

Two advocate commissioners appointed by the Madras High Court Bench here on September 11 to inspect the Mattuthavani Integrated Bus Stand in the city have come out with a report claiming poor upkeep and unhygienic conditions despite the Madurai Municipal Corporation paying Rs.3 lakh every month to a private organisation for maintaining the bus stand.

Bar leaders M. Thirunavukarasu and J. Nisha Banu, appointed by Justice R. Sudhakar, visited the bus stand on September 14 and found heaps of garbage dumped on both sides of the main entrance. “We were welcomed by bad odour… and the officials (who accompanied the lawyers during the inspection) said that the stench was due to an open air toilet in the vicinity for men,” the advocates said.

The open air toilet, on the left side of the entrance, was used free of charge by hundreds of people every day. A few yards away from it was a pay and use toilet that was once maintained by a popular textile showroom in the city and permitted to be used free of cost. But it was converted into a paid toilet even before the contract with the private firm could get over.

The conditions around both the toilets were obnoxious due to stagnation of dirty water serving as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. It also led to a strong stench all over the bus stand. There was no underground drainage facility in the bus stand and the sewage was let out into the Vandiyoor water body which was a source of drinking water for many people, the advocates’ report stated.

The lawyers also said that only one-third of the two-wheelers parked in the bus stand were provided with shelter despite the collection of Rs.2 for parking bicycles and Rs.3 for motorcycles. Around 10,000 vehicles were parked in the bus stand every day and about 6,000 of them could be spotted during any time of the day. Most of these vehicles were exposed to sun and rain.

The sinks attached to the drinking water taps were filled with food waste creating a nauseating feeling and the food items in the shops were sold for more than the Maximum Retail Price. “For example, a bottle of cold drink was sold for Rs.30 though its MRP was only Rs.25 and in most of the bottles, the price details were erased. Further, the water packets were bereft of manufacturing dates,” the advocates added.

The grilled cabins meant for passengers had no light. Some of the chairs meant for them had been stolen and the rest were broken. “We could also see water continuously leaking from top through one of the pillars of the bus stand causing threat to the entire structure… A medical centre in the campus was closed at the time of inspection and we were told that a nurse had come in the morning,” the lawyers said.

Expressing shock over the pathetic condition of the bus stand, they said that there was no reason for it to remain so especially when the private organisation, entrusted with the maintenance, was collecting Rs.15 from every bus entering it and remitting the amount to the Corporation only after deducting its fee. “So there is no possibility of non-payment of maintenance charges also,” their report stated.

Recommending steps to set right the anomalies pointed out by them, the Bar leaders said that complaint boxes could be installed inside the bus stand. Closed circuit television cameras could also be fixed in prime locations for ensuring the safety of the passengers and their luggage. They also suggested installation of large dust bins all over the bus stand and boards warning everyone against littering the place.

Their report was submitted before Justice S. Manikumar on Friday, as Mr. Justice Sudhakar was on leave, and the matter was adjourned to next week after the counsel for the Corporation sought time to file a written reply detailing the steps taken by it to keep the bus stand clean and tidy.

The advocate commissioners were appointed during the hearing of a batch of writ petitions filed by shop owners in the bus stand against the Corporation’s move to close down one of the two entrances available for most of the shops.

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