PUDUCHERRY: After Delhi and Tamil Nadu, Puducherry has decided to introduce free bus travel for women in pink buses to be operated exclusively for them.
The NDA government (AINRC and BJP) is in the process of procuring the buses under the Nirbhaya Scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development and they will be operated by the Puducherry Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), as earlier announced in the Legislative Assembly, Transport Minister Chandira Priyanga told newsmen at a press conference here on Monday.
A proposal to procure around 50 buses has been sent to the central government, she said. Once the buses are procured and ready for plying, an order for free travel facility for women would be issued, she added. These buses would be equipped with GPS and CCTV cameras for safety.
Another 200 new buses would be added to the existing fleet of PRTC, Chandira Priyanga said. These buses would be provided by the Ministry of Urban Development for urban mobility. Under the scheme which is being formulated by the ministry, buses will be provided to states in proportion to their population. Puducherry would be given 200 buses. The Puducherry government has expressed plans to run the buses through PRTC, though the final decision (either by government corporations or in PPP mode) rests with the central ministry, she said.
At present, the PRTC is having 164 buses of which only 90 are operating and the rest could not be put into service due to their condition. During the Covid pandemic, 10 Volvo buses were stopped and steps are being taken to get them refurbished by the company itself. If the expenses are high, the buses will be handed over to the company and new buses would be purchased in their place.
Presently, the corporation earns double the revenue on PRTC buses, compared to the past, she added. The PRTC workers have been paid their five months pending salary and steps are being taken to fulfill their other demands, the minister said.
With a shortage of ticket inspectors at PRTC (only four are available), the Puducherry government has obtained permission for inspection of buses by Tamil Nadu inspectors in collaboration with the government of Tamil Nadu, she said.
In addition, a women’s cell would be set up in the labour department to facilitate working women to register complaints of harassment at their workplace, said Chandira Priyanga who is also holding the labour portfolio.