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Neglect turning Assam State Transport Corporation buses into scrap

The ASTC is providing a classic example of how to waste public property worth cr of rupees through wilful negligence

Assam State Transport Corporation

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  3 July 2022 12:12 AM GMT


GUWAHATI: The Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) is providing a classic example of how to waste public property worth crores of rupees through wilful negligence. Let other alone parts of the state, more than 100 buses, including air-conditioned buses and luxury vehicles manufactured by the Bharat Benz company, are gathering dust at the ASTC's Rupnagar workshop campus here and awaiting transformation into scrap material.

The ASTC ostensibly lacks the funds to get these buses repaired, yet it has enough funds to periodically purchase new buses worth crores of rupees. In fact, the ASTC is now preparing to buy 200 new electric buses.

The question that arises is whether anyone is being held accountable for allowing all these buses to lay abandoned without repairs and, thereby, damaging public property?

The ASTC currently has 830 buses under it, out of which 160 are not in service due to various damages.

Sources said that the biggest impediment in this regard is the lack of funds to carry out repairs of damaged buses. Moreover, there is no mechanism for monitoring damage to buses and according priority for repairs. The problem is compounded by the non-caring attitude of a section of employees and officials who feel that they will receive their salaries irrespective of how many buses are lying defunct, the sources added.

Another example of ASTC's bizarre policy is provided by the 'Sarothi' free bus service for women and senior citizens. The ASTC had procured 24 electric vehicles for this purpose. However, since the last three months or so, 20 of these buses have been grounded at the workshop on the preposterous excuse that there is a dearth of passengers. One only has to look at the overcrowded private city buses to realize that there is no question of there being a lack of passengers for a free bus service in the city.

Another question that arises is that, if the ASTC cannot afford to carry out repairs of damaged buses, why not auction them off while there are in reasonably good condition? Why wait till the buses accumulate rust and become scrap material? Is there any nexus that benefits if the buses are rendered into scrap and then disposed off?

According to sources, the ASTC has around 3,200 employees, out of whom 1,200 are regular employees. The ASTC requires around Rs 7 crore per month to defray salaries etc. The State Government provides Rs 2.91 crore per month for the purpose and the remainder is met by the ASTC from its own funds. The ASTC earns around Rs 1 crore per month from their own buses; another Rs 1 crore comes from buses that operate under it; around Rs 90 lakh comes as rent from various properties of the ASTC; and around Rs 1 comes from ASTC buses hired by various public sector units. It is evident that the ASTC's earnings are barely sufficient to meet the salary burden.

In the context of abandoned buses, it needs to be borne in mind that apart from Guwahati many such ASTC buses are gathering rust in ASTC campuses in many other towns.

Also READ: Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC): Pink bus fleet reduced to 4 from 25

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