Site taken on rent from a temple by town panchayat in 1963

For the past half a century, people of Kulithalai town in Karur district have been putting up with a ground that houses a bus stand. Bereft of proper passenger shelters and water points, the bus stand has crossed the golden jubilee milestone even as it reflects the apathy of successive administrations in finding a permanent bus stand for the town that lay in the centre on the Karur-Tiruchi stretch.

The erstwhile Kulithalai Town Panchayat took over the ground measuring 1.22 acres of land and belonging to the adjoining Sri Perala Kundhalammam temple on April 1, 1963 for use as bus stand. For the next five years, the panchayat paid a rent of Rs. 100 to the temple for the purpose.

Then gradually the floor rent rose to touch Rs. 13,950 per month as on August 2006. The temple administration later in July 1997 demanded a floor rent of Rs. 25,000 a month filing a suit in the Madras High Court against which the local body claimed it was not in a position to pay that amount.

A decade or so back, some public spirited residents of Kulithalai raised a concerted demand for a permanent bus stand for the town that had evolved into a municipality by then. They cited the lack of proper civic amenities in the bus stand, inability of the civic body to establish them due to the impermanent nature of the contract for floor rent and the costs involved for finding an alternative site for the bus stand. “We wanted a new and permanent bus stand that offered better basic facilities to the commuters. The preset bus stand does not have even basic amenities. However, all our efforts have so far yielded little results and we are back to square one,” says social activist and Gandhian R.C. Mamundia Pillai who spearheaded the movement to get a new bus stand for Kulithalai town a few years ago. Some sites were identified but political bickering ensured that nothing moved forward and the residents were left to adjust with the farce of a bus stand for so long.

“God knows what has happened to the recommendations of the five-member search committee formed to locate the site and the follow-up done on the recommendations. Now that the NHAI has laid a new bypass skirting Kulithalai town, we fear that the campaign for a permanent bus stand will fizzle out as most of the long-distance buses will skip the town,” Mr. Mamundia Pillai says.

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