A massive plan to revive the operation of buses of the State-owned Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) is currently in the pipeline.
At a high-level meeting held recently, the Transport Department Principal Secretary proposed the adoption of wet lease procedure to increase the fleet size by roping in private partners (bus owners).
At present OSRTC has a fleet of around 636 buses. Out of which 478 are on road, 77 buses are under repair and 53 buses are to be condemned. Hence, the bus strength of OSRTC is about 5% of the total buses in operation in the State (government and private buses). These buses are operating on 317 routes.
The Standing Committee has observed that OSRTC will procure new buses to increase their fleet size to 1000. However, OSRTC is incurring operational losses every year. Without putting a financial burden on the purchase of buses/maintenance/manpower/fuel etc, OSRTC has been advised to examine the procedure adopted by CRUT and make further deliberations.
As per the proposals, maintenance charge, fuel cost, staff payment etc. will be borne by the Private Partner. The Private partners may have a better management system in the matter of operation of buses and this may help in reducing the operational losses of OSRTC buses.
“We do not welcome any such move. We want OSRTC to run independently and there should be a competition with private players so that the passengers will gain,” said the secretary of the private owners’ association, Devendra Sahoo.
Sahoo further stated that crores of rupees have been pumped into OSRTC, but despite this, it is having a fleet of only 400-odd buses.
“The State government to consider handing over the responsibility of Mo Bus and OSRTC to one agency for better management and operation,” Sahoo added.
(Reported by Kapilendra Pradhan)