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Devbrat Patnaik

Rourkela: Despite being the second smart city in Odisha after Bhubaneswar, Rourkela seems to be lying in a state of utter neglect. At a time when Capital Region Urban Transport (CRUT) was honoured with the Best City Bus Services Award nationally for its services in the Capital city, the steel city is nowhere in the list with its city bus services crumbling each passing day. The administration however has assured that they would come up with a solution to this very soon.

Mo Bus Vs No Bus

Reportedly, 30 town buses were procured by the Sundergarh Urban Transport Trust (SUTT) which is jointly headed by district administration and 'Sampark' after they formalised an agreement to run the city bus services from November 2, 2016.

While CRUT has a fleet of over 300 buses under the brand name of 'Mo Bus', in comparison, Rourkela has only 14 buses plying in different routes in the city and 16 more extending services to passengers travelling outside. Of these, two buses are now languishing at the bus depot, sources said.

CRUT Mo Bus Vs Rourkela SSUT bus

It has been over three years since city buses were introduced, however, there is no addition to the fleet leading to discontentment among the city denizens. Even the drivers have complained about buses developing glitches frequently.

Rourkela Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Dr Yeddula Vijay said he has apprised the government about the demands of the public. "Earlier, when we raised the issue the government had assured that Rourkela under a new scheme would get electric buses. But due to lack of infrastructure, it was delayed. The Odisha government has said that electric buses would be introduced in Bhubaneswar first, on a pilot mode. Then it will be implemented in the steel city."

On the other hand, Sampark's Chief Managing Partner Prashant Swain says the ridership has increased and people are happy with the services. He also assured that the buses which are non-operational will soon be back on roads.

Smart City Rourkela Neglected

Recently, Sundergarh MP Jual Oram sought urgent intervention of the Centre to direct Odisha government to expedite development of the projects in Rourkela.

In a letter, Oram stated, "It is unfortunate that the funds allocated by the Central Government in 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years have not been entirely spent in the development of the city. Out of Rs 37.06 crore available so far, only Rs 22.23 crore has been spent. That is also towards the establishment and the salaries of the officers and other staff."

"Unless the development activities are expedited, the grant of the Central Government and the long cherished desires of the inhabitants of Rourkela will not be fulfilled. As such, I demand that the Central Government intervenes in the matter and directs the State Government to expedite the development of the projects so that Rourkela becomes full-fledged and beautiful Smart City," mentioned Oram.

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