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Buses to Lahore getting ready

By Ajay Kaul in New Delhi
May 27, 2003 18:59 IST
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The government is readying the two Delhi Transport Corporation buses that used to ply on the Delhi-Lahore route before the snapping of the link from January 2002.

The move follows India's decision on Monday to resume the bus service between the two countries.

"So far we have received no communication from the central government about when to resume the service. But we have started preparations to keep the buses ready," Delhi Transport Minister Ajay Maken said on Tuesday.

He said the city government was ready to buy new 'more luxurious' buses if adequate time was given.

The air-conditioned buses, bought earlier for Rs 22 lakh each, had on-board STD facility, besides very comfortable seats and video.

After disconnecting the telephone facility, the buses were used for ferrying tourists on domestic circuits, like Dehradun and Nainital. One of the two buses had sometime back met with an accident when a truck hit it from behind causing a big dent in its body. Necessary repairs are being carried out on it.

According to DTC officials, Rs 1.25 crore has been set aside for purchase of more buses, which could be used on rotational basis to reduce wear-and-tear.

The Delhi-Lahore bus service was launched with much fanfare on March 16, 1999, less than a month after the historic Lahore bus journey by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The service was aimed at bringing the people of the two countries closer by providing a cheaper mode of transport. It supplemented the Samjhauta Express train service, till then the only surface link between the two countries.

The Delhi government and loss-making DTC is also expecting Pakistan to settle its dues of Rs 24,61,187, which it incurred on providing various facilities during the plying of the service in Indian territory for 22 months.

The expenses were incurred by DTC over provision of fuel, food, boarding and lodging facilities to the Pakistani bus and its crewmembers and passengers, a DTC official said.

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Ajay Kaul in New Delhi
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