Other States

AAP plans to eradicate ‘transport mafia’ by introducing Punjab State-run luxury buses to Delhi airport

National convener of Aam Aadmi Party Arvind Kejriwal. File

National convener of Aam Aadmi Party Arvind Kejriwal. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government in Punjab has decided to ply luxury bus service from different parts of the State to New Delhi Airport on June 15, claiming that this would end the ‘transport mafia’ in the State. This has happened at a time when private bus operators have raised questions over the government’s slumber on their demands, which they claim have put their livelihoods at stake.

As Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal along with his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann is slated to flag off luxury buses to Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport from Jalandhar on Wednesday, the private bus operators have announced to put ‘black flags’ on their buses to highlight their demands.

Members of Punjab Motor Union, the body of private bus operators, have welcomed the government’s decision to start a luxury bus service to New Delhi Airport, but they asserted that for over 2,000 private bus operators in the State, the government needs to rationalise its policies as the sector faces an existential crisis.

“The previous government had last year allowed free-of-cost travel for women in all government buses. Since the decision, our business has immensely been hurt. The business of private operators has gone down by around 50% as women prefer to travel in state-run buses. Besides, diesel prices have sharply risen in the past months. Also, the fares have been almost the same for the last two years. Our livelihood is at stake but the government has not initiated any steps for us,” Jarnail Singh Garhdiwal, one of the members of the 10-member action committee of the Union told The Hindu on Tuesday. 

“We have been raising our concerns for last many months, but of no use, hence we have decided to put ‘black flags’ on buses. We will decide our next course of action if our demands are not met. The state government’s decision to start a luxurious bus service to New Delhi Airport is a welcome step as the passengers will get a cheaper ride and end the monopoly of one of the leading bus operators, but the rest of the private bus operators want their demands to be fulfilled so that the business could be sustained,” he said.

As the debate surrounding the ‘transport mafia’ continued, the principal Opposition party, Congress took a dig at Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, blaming him for “surrendering Punjab to Delhi”.

Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly, Congress’s Partap Singh Bajwa said the fact that Mr. Kejriwal is coming to flag off the luxury bus service has reiterated that the Punjab government was being run from Delhi.

“During our previous regime, the Congress government had taken up the matter several times with the Delhi government to ply buses to the international airport, but to no avail. Now they have been forced to run these buses because in both the States it’s their government and not running the buses would expose them as they had an ‘understanding’ with the private operator that had over the year monopolised the route. Also, the flag-off ceremony to be held by Mr. Kejriwal along with Mr. Mann once again reestablished the fact that the Punjab government is being run from Delhi,” said Mr. Bajwa.

Asserting that the decision to ply government luxurious bus service to New Delhi Airport would dig the grave of the ‘transport mafia’ in the state, Mr. Mann asserted that the transport mafia will be a thing of the past.

After his announcement, the Chief Minister in a video message stated that for decades only private transporters had run their buses on this route and looted the people by charging as per their own whims and fancies. He said that these people monopolised the trade and exploited the people. He said that these super luxurious buses will charge less than half of the private transporters.

Notably, the Indo-Canadian buses of the politically influential “Badal” family had been plying from Punjab to New Delhi airport for the past several years while the state-owned buses had been plying up to the Delhi interstate bus terminal.

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Printable version | Jul 21, 2022 2:55:08 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/aap-plans-to-eradicate-transport-mafia-by-introducing-punjab-state-run-luxury-buses-to-delhi-airport/article65527428.ece