Free travel for women in Punjab costs PRTC dear - Hindustan Times
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Free travel for women in Punjab costs PRTC dear

By, Patiala
Aug 31, 2022 03:36 AM IST

According to official records, the PRTC on an average records a daily receipt of ₹ 2.2 crore, but almost ₹ 1.2 crore goes as free travel, cutting short the revenue of the state transport and making it fully dependent on the government. The previous Captain Amarinder Singh-led government had last year launched the scheme of free travel for women in government-run buses.

The free travel facility to women in Punjab is costing dearly to state-run Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), with its daily income plunging by at least 55%.

Overall, the PRTC has outsanding liability of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span> 250 crore, out of which <span class='webrupee'>₹</span> 149 crores are for the free travel facility. (HT File)
Overall, the PRTC has outsanding liability of 250 crore, out of which 149 crores are for the free travel facility. (HT File)

According to official records, the PRTC on an average records a daily receipt of 2.2 crore, but almost 1.2 crore goes as free travel, cutting short the revenue of the state transport and making it fully dependent on the government.

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The previous Captain Amarinder Singh-led government had last year launched the scheme of free travel for women in government-run buses.

PRTC’s managing director Poonamdeep Kaur said that the government is aware of the state transport’s financial woes. “I have raised the matter with the government, and hopefully the grants in lieu will be released soon,” she said.

Overall, the PRTC has outsanding liability of 250 crore, out of which 149 crores are for the free travel facility.

Presently, the PRTC is running its full fleet of almost 1,200 buses in its nine depots– Ludhiana, Kapurthala, Chandigarh, Patiala, Bathinda, Budhlada, Barnala, Faridkot and Sangrur.

The situation can be gauged from the fact that salaries of July month were paid to the staff on August 29, that too, after many protests by the employees.

The PRTC is also finding it difficult to meet its daily committed expenses, including diesel and other mechanical charges.

“Daily we witness that women come in groups and board buses which are mostly on pilgrim routes. Two out of three passenger are ladies. Most of them are traveling without any motive, as travel is free of cost,” said Gurjit Singh, a PRTC employee.

Nirmal Singh Dhaliwal, convener of PRTC-linked trade unions, said the scheme has adversely affected the PRTC and ended its financial freedom. Now, it is fully dependent upon government subsidy, which is not released timely, thus employees are waiting for salaries and protesting.

“From where would corporation pay for its diesel and salaries?” Dhaliwal questioned, adding that government should pay the advance fare, if it wants to save the department.

PRTC needs at least 25 crores per month to pay salaries and pensions to its employees. “It has become difficult to meet day-to-day expenses, and even some petrol pumps have refused to provide diesel as outstanding is piling up,” an official said. ENDS

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    A special correspondent, Vishal Rambani is the bureau chief at Patiala. He covers politics, crime, power sector, environment and socio-economic issues, with several investigative stories to his credit.

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