Hyderabad, Aug 29 Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are at loggerheads not just over irrigation projects across Krishna and Godavari rivers but also the resumption of bus services.
Even five months after the suspension of the bus services between the two Telugu states due to COVID-19 pandemic, there is no hope of an early resumption of transport services, if the stand taken by their road transport bodies is any indication.
The failure of another round of talks between the officials of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State Road Transport Corporations early this week indicates that commuters will have to wait longer for bus transport services to resume.
With all barriers on inter-state transport removed following relaxation of lockdown norms, the resumption of RTC services between the twin states should have been a natural process.
Inter-state bus services were suspended in the last week of March following the imposition of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.
With the relaxation of lockdown norms in May, both states resumed the bus services within their respective territories but the inter-state services remained suspended.
Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) and Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) had agreed on June 17 to resume the inter-state services.
APSRTC had mooted a proposal to operate 256 bus services to Telangana and resume the remaining in a phased manner.
However, TSRTC is now insisting that APSRTC reduce the number of kilometres operated by its buses in Telangana.
Ever since Telangana came into existence as a new state following bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the inter-state passenger bus services were being operated on the basis of ad hoc provisions under Clause 72(1) of the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act 2014.
Since the inter-state RTC services were suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic, Telangana saw an opportunity to insist on a proper inter-state agreement on the basis of parity to allow resumption of services.
There is a feeling in Telangana that the current arrangement is heavily loaded in favour of APSRTC due to various factors, the key reason being more passengers travelling from Andhra to Telangana, especially Hyderabad.
TSRTC is currently operating its services only on 175 routes in Andhra Pradesh with 554 buses while APSRTC has 386 routes and is operating 1,226 buses in Telangana. With 450 services in Andhra Pradesh every day, TSRTC is covering only 94,048 km. On the other hand APSRTC is covering 3,37,603 km every day with 946 services in Telangana.
Since Hyderabad was the capital of undivided Andhra Pradesh, there were always more bus services from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions to Hyderabad. Officials say not much changed on the ground after the bifurcation of the state.
APSRTC operates the majority of its bus service to Hyderabad from Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Anantapur, Kurnool and other destinations.
Since TSRTC has been incurring huge losses, its officials are making every effort to seek a level playing field to minimise them. They are demanding that TSRTC be allowed to operate an equal number of buses in Andhra Pradesh.
As the deadlock continues between transport authorities of the two states, the inter-state commuters are facing hardships. Worst affected by this impasse are the students who have to appear for examinations like JEE Main and NEET in Hyderabad.
The students had registered in Hyderabad while undergoing coaching for the national-level tests but with the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown they had to go back to their home towns in Andhra Pradesh.
Now with the Centre going ahead with these exams, the students are facing a tough time in reaching Hyderabad in the absence of bus services.
( With inputs from IANS )
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