Privatisation of transport in UP on cards

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Lucknow May 18 (UNI) Privatisation of the transport sector in Uttar Pradesh was not a distant dream for the Mayawati government after the employees, who were against it, eased down their protest following fulfillment of some of their demands by the state government.

UP government had already issued notification inviting ''Expression of Interest''(EOI) from the private investors for plying buses on 465 routes in the state but the permit would be issued only after getting permission from the Allahabad High Court.

The state government has adopted the PPP model for attracting private investment in the road transport sector.

The UPSRTC employees, who were agitating for the last couple of months protesting against the privatisation and even threatened to go on indefinite strike, had toned down their agitation when the government in principle accepted some of the demands of the UPSRTC employees including 50 per cent merger of their DA in the basic salary last week.

UPSRTC employees union leaders here said they were watching the move of the state government and appreciated the consideration of their demands by the government.

'' We are still against the privatisation of the transport sector as in future the government has planned to disband the UPSRTC,'' they alleged.

But still the government would have to wait for the clearance from the Allahabad High Court on the privatisation of the transport sector because the employees, fearing their retrenchment after privatisation, had filed a writ petition challenging the new transport policy.

The High Court had stayed the issue of permits to the private operators till the petition was finally disposed by the court but did not say anything on publishing the EOI to invite the tenders.

State principal secretary transport Desh Deepak Verma said the court had not imposed any restriction on the process of inviting investors through the EOI and had only restrained the government from issuing permits to the bidders selected by the bidding process.

According to the conditions of the EOI, the private entrepreneur applying for investment in state road transport sector should have minimum fleet of 4,000 buses. The companies, firms, consortium, corporate houses, societies, cooperative societies including those formed by existing individual operators would be eligible to apply.

The buses must be fixed with General Positioning System (GPS), automatic electronic ticketing machine, LED display, audio video systems and should also be fitted with equipment of highest standards for maximum passenger safety. The fleet should have proper mix of different types of vehicles like luxury, ordinary, large and small buses based on route requirement and passenger demand.

The state Cabinet in October 2007 had approved the new transport policy based on PPP model for attracting private investment. In January last, the state government had issued notification for the de nationalisation of 465 routes in the state.

Earlier the UPSRTC had the monopoly on plying its fleet of buses on these routes. The UPSRTC operates around 6,700 buses on these routes. Around 700 private buses running on contract with the Corporation, the transport undertaking has around 7,400 buses in its fleet.

UP has motorable road network of 1.33 lakh km and annual traffic of over 100 crore passengers with annual growth of five per cent.

An official of the transport department said constantly increasing travel demand provided immense potential for the private sector to invest in the transport sector.

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