SILCHAR, April 26: Ajit Singh, Minister of Transport, Excise, Sports and Culture, speaking at a well attended function in the premises of the flag station here today, said his ministry "has laid stress on development of better infrastructure for augmenting the fleet of bus services and also modernization, keeping in view the increasing number of commuters and their expectations of better services from the ASTC". He pointed out that this was also his vision for improvement of services for Barak Valley also with the rest of the state.
As a first step, the flag station, now a Assam type structure, would be converted into three multi-storied building which would house station flag office, commercial centre, booking counter, hotel with all requisite facilities and a car and bus parking place with the accommodation for 53 vehicles at a time. The transport minister revealed for this project, Rs.3 crore has been sanctioned by the Doner, NEC and State Plan jointly. Besides, the 2200 sq. ft. premises would also have 12 stalls for commercial purposes.
Giving a brief account of the history of transport services in the state of Assam, Ajit Singh said that the first bus services from Silchar to Hailakandi in this valley was started in 1957 which was flagged off by Golap Borbora, the then Chief Minister. In 2001, total buses operating in Assam numbered 70. The condition was deplorable in view of the depleting revenues. ASTC could not pay salaries to its employees properly. Many of them suffered physically and mentally. Some of them even were compelled to commit suicide.
There was however a turn around when Anjan Dutta, the present president of APCC, became the minister of transport. There was lot of improvement and around 1000 buses began to operate and 1200 private buses were included under the banner of ASTC. There was the proposal, as the minister of transport said, to press in 400 new buses in phase wise. Presently, 100 new buses have been inducted in the fleet. For Barak Valley, the minister said he would make his best effort to bring in 10 buses. There was also proposal to start deluxe AC day and night bus services on Silchar-Guwahati route.
In order to meet the growing demand for more ASTC routes from the passengers, Ajit Singh disclosed Silchar-Lowaipoa bus services is under active consideration. This was part of the 3 more rural bus services in the valley. Silchar-Sylhet bus service is also on the pipeline but it depends upon the clearance of transit route by the Bangladesh Government. ASTC is giving serious thought to renovate the IWT launch services plying in this valley on different routes on losing revenues for taking them over and make them profitable for passengers. As a part of update services, e-ticket provision would also be a near possibility.
The transport minister further revealed a Rs.1 crore project was being considered by his ministry for organizing state based games in this valley, the first of its kind after Independence. 3000 boys and girls would get the opportunity to take part in various events, indoor and outdoor. An indoor stadium at an estimated cost of Rs.6 crore is also being considered for this valley. His thrust being on infrastructure development and modernization of services, all encroached lands of ASTC would be made free and for this time bound action plan taken up across the state.
It was also significant that Ajit Singh laid down the foundation stone of a workshop at the divisiol office of ASTC at Hailakandi Road. It would have all the provisions for repair and also maintence of the ASTC buses operating on long and short routes. Jaganth Singh, the minister said, who was his uncle was the first transport minister from this valley 30 years ago. He therefore took pride in the fact that the mantle of his uncle has now fallen on him, besides looking after the departments of excise, sports and culture. Also present at the function were Gokul Mohan Hazarika, Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, Khagen th Chetia, Maging Director, ASTC, Md. Karim Ahmed, Divisiol Superintendent, Karnendu Bhattacharjee, ex MP and other distinguished guests.