PUDUCHERRY: Despite the government permitting operation of buses within Puducherry limits, private bus operators in Puducherry are reluctant to operate buses with 50 per cent capacity and without passengers from Tamil Nadu.
There is no point in operating buses with just 50 per cent capacity in the town areas which is small as well as intra services to rural areas without Tamil Nadu passengers as it will not be viable, says V Jayaprakash, Secretary of Puducherry state bus owners association and operator of Sri Jayanthi services.
There are around 184 private buses operated by Puducherry operators in Puducherry and to the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu and others.
While buses cannot be operated to the red districts of Villupuram and Cuddalore, but even the inter-service buses operated in Puducherry cannot ply through the intermittent areas of Tamil Nadu contained in Puducherry like Kottakuppam, Kandamangalam, Reddichavady, Morattandi or stop and pick up passengers, since these places are in Villupuram and Cuddalore district."
Puducherry buses are dependent on passengers from neighbouring districts of Tamil Nadu who commute to Puducherry for business, health care and other needs," said Jayaprakash.
In addition, bus operators have to pay the quarterly road tax of Rs 360 per seat per quarter to the government in advance. Though the bus operators associations had sought exemption from road taxes for the quarter from April to June, the transport department has only given an extension of time for payment of the road tax.
Under these circumstances, it will be totally nonviable service and will end up in losses, said Jayaprakash.
Until the border districts are opened, no bus operator is thinking of running bus services.
"We will wait and see norms on first of June and then decide," said Jayaprakash.
Even Puducherry Road Transport Corporation buses have not operated buses so far. The corporation is waiting for clearance by the Transport department for playing of buses through Tamil Nadu areas contained in Puducherry, sources said.
The District Collector T Arun has written to his counterparts in Cuddalore and Villupuram Districts to permit Puducherry buses to ply through the intermittent areas of Tamil Nadu to reach the end destination in Puducherry, on the condition that no one will get down from the bus in Tamil Nadu areas and neither will anyone board the bus from such areas.
K V Seetharamaraju, Regional Transport Officer (Head Quarters ) told Express. Once the clearance is granted, a standard operating procedure will be drawn up for operation of buses, he said. As of now, buses can be operated in urban areas.
In addition, the new bus stand also remains occupied by vegetable vendors as it was converted into a temporary market by the government .
Meanwhile, people from remote areas of Puducherry bordering Villupuram and Cuddalore districts are facing difficulties in coming to Puducherry for their needs.
"At least for people, the government should operate buses by understanding the difficulties", said A Munnadiyan, a resident of Kirumampakkam in South Puducherry.