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Question mark over long, low-floor buses in hill state

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

Forest minister, Gobind Singh Thakur, who also holds the transport portfolio, on Tuesday said that the government will inquire into as to how the previous government got Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal (JNNURM) buses, which were 12 metres long with low floor clearance for the hill state.

“It is a matter of surprise as to how, despite technical advice and expertise, the transport authorities in previous government could go ahead with these buses. How could they commit such a big mistake?,” he said in reply to a query by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Nurpur, Rakesh Pathania during Question Hour in the state Assembly.

Pathania raised the issue aggressively that the buses are very long and they had few inches of ground clearance due to which they were not feasible for the hill state. He asked the minister to issue a white paper on the irregularities in the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) in previous Congress regime.

The minister said the state got 791 buses under JNNURM, out of which 325 were stranded. He said the private operators had gone to the High Court alleging that these buses did not run in the clusters they were meant for.

The High Court had stayed it and later there was contempt order also. “Our government has taken up the issue for solution objectively and we are talking to the stakeholders, the private operators and others too. But since it’s a court matter, we will have to take care of that.”

The HRTC has a fleet of 3,103 buses, 25 are electric buses and 325 and more than 90 buses are on wet lease.

In reply to another question by BJP MLA from Bhatiyat, Bikram Singh Jarial regarding alleged irregularities in recruitments in HP State Pollution Control Board (PCB) in previous Congress regime, Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur said the procedures adopted for recruitments raised doubts about intentions of the Board.

He said for the 71 vacancies of Class II, III and IV, the Board decided to do recruitments on its own despite the rules that the recruitments are to be made by HP Subordinate Services Selection Board.

He said later, again against the established system, the Board decided to hand over the task of recruitments to the Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) and paid Rs 25 lakh from the Board money for this. “This raises questions,” he said.

He said he would gather information and look into the point raised by Bhatiyat MLA that three persons were recruited from the same area in one Assembly