There seems to be no end in sight to the stand off between the road transport corporations of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana with regard to resuming inter-State bus services.
After exhausting all options to break the ice, the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) on Saturday deployed 38 buses at six check-posts on the Andhra-Telangana border to fetch home-bound people in the festival season. “This is to enable Andhra people to visit families during the festival season,” Transport Minister Perni Venkataramaiah said at a press conference in Hyderabad on Saturday.
Of the 38 buses, seven are deployed at the Garikapadu check-post near Jaggayyapet in Krishna district, four at Wadapally check-post, seven at Pylon, 13 at Kallugudem check-post, two at Jeelugumilli and five buses at the Panchalingala check-post.
While the idea is to increase the number of buses based on the public response, the initiative does not seem to have found much acceptance. “The response is poor,” said an official, explaining that this was because people did not want stopovers and the hassle of changing buses multiple times.
The APSRTC stopped operating buses on March 21 after lockdown was imposed and after the lockdown was lifted, bus services have been resumed to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The Minister informed that though the State RTC officials had been talking with their Telangana counterparts from June 18, a solution still eludes. He requested that Telangana also run buses at least till the border to spare hardships to the travelling public.
Telangana Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar had attributed the delay in solving the issue to Andhra Pradesh’s “adamant” stand, and had also accused it of using “arm-twisting tactics to gain an upper hand”.
Mr. Venkataramaiah brushed it aside and said:”We are very flexible. We came up with multiple options which were not accepted.” He denied that the APSRTC was eyeing profits by capturing the profit-making routes, a charge levelled by the Telangana officials. “Now that the government has taken over the responsibility of the RTC employees’ salaries that works out to be ₹3,600 crore annually, the RTC doesn’t have to bother about the financial burden. From December 2019, it started exploring alternative revenue-generation means and the cargo sector has proven to be one of the sources of income. We are also exploring various other ways,” he explained.
The Minister said the only concern of the government was that if the RTC cuts down on the number of buses it operates on routes which had high public demand, where would it leave the people using our bus services now.
The Minister said a middle ground would be worked out. “Three days festival holidays from Saturday has further delayed the process. The talks will resume on Tuesday and we will find a solution soon,” he added.