Himansu Shekhar Rout

The Odisha government launched the Location Accessible Multi-modal Initiative (LAccMI) scheme in remote areas of the state to provide affordable and reliable transportation to inaccessible areas and improving connectivity.

LAccMI bus service was projected as the lifeline for the poor and rural Odisha. However, its publicity belies the ground realities of affordable public transportation in the Narayanpatna area of Koraput and other remote areas as well.

Politics has heated up over the efficacy and success of LAccMI bus service in some remote areas.

On Sunday, a van carrying 46 labourers met with an accident in the Dharmagarh area of Kalahandi. Four persons died while many others were critically injured. The accident exposed the big claim of the government, as many alleged that had LAccMI bus service been available in the area, people would not have used such risky modes of transport.

Thabir Biswal, brother of one of the deceased labourers, Mohan said, “LAccMI bus is not running here. Had such a bus been running, we would be availing its services.”

Pointing out the plight, Prasanna Agasti, a lawyer in Dharmagarh said, “People have to depend on pick-up vans, trucks, mini trucks and auto rickshaws for communication. This is very unfortunate. The administration should ensure good communication facilities for the people.” 

People in many remote areas of Naryanpatna routinely commute in auto rickshaws which are always found jam-packed with people along with luggage and even bicycles. Worse, people are seen travelling atop auto rickshaws, endangering their lives. Observers said, such deplorable scenes are a common sight, because LAccMI bus service is not available. 

Same is the situation in four panchayats under Mohana block of Gajapati district. Thousands of people in the four panchayats have been suffering in the absence of the much-touted LAccMI bus service.

Except one or two private buses, people have no dependable transportation service in these panchayats, where auto rickshaws and privates buses (one or two) are always found overloaded or carry passengers beyond their capacities. 

Sunil Sahu, a resident of Gobindapur under Mohana block lamented, “We have big posters about LAccMI bus service at 30 places, but there is no sight of such buses in our panchayat.” 

Rojina Pradhan, sarpanch of Gulaba panchayat said, "It was said the LAccMI bus service will be available in our panchayat. Banners have been hung. The government should run buses in all rural areas. It should not do partiality. What kind of justice is this?” 

People of Kotia, which has been on the target of Andhra Pradesh, are allegedly exhausted from the long wait for bus connectivity. A bus stand was built in the area, but not a single LAccMI bus has ever come to the stand. 

A short-term scheme: Opposition parties 

Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka said, “We have seen many schemes like KALIA, Biju Yuba Bahini and Peetha. Such dramas of the government are seen during the election time. The government has no long-term plans. By launching such short-term schemes, the BJD government is trying to fool people.”   

Former MP Balabhadra Majhi said, "KALIA was introduced, but now it has vanished. As elections come, the government does such things. This time, people have decided not to be fooled.”

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BJD MLA Pritam Padhi said, “The Chief Minister is giving top priority to Kotia. LAccMI bus service will be available in Kotia.”

On the other hand, after southern districts, the government on Monday launched the bus service with fanfare in five more districts of Mayurbhanj, Bolangir, Bargarh, Sundargarh and Keonjhar.