Lucknow: The maitreya (frienship) bus service between Varanasi and Kathmandu, started amid much fanfare, has ground to a halt largely due to administrative and financial issues, an informed source said. The service started around five months ago by the Uttar Pradesh State Roadways Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) to strengthen bilateral ties through people-to-people contacts between Prime Minister Narendra Modi s parliamentary constituency and the Nepalese capital has been "prematurely shelved" owing to "poor management and bad revenue," the source said.
Despite the hype generated, a contract was not even signed with Kaushik Logistics, the company roped in to run the service, the source said. The service was launched by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and state Transport Minister Durga Prasad Yadav on March 4. The bus ran into rough weather initially as the load factor was abysmal but slowly picked up and the bus started running to packed capacity until technical and operational glitches emerged as stumbling blocks.
While the service was hit briefly by the devastating April 25 Nepal earthquake, it started suffering as the company running it withdrew as there was neither "a written formal contract nor any parameters were set for (providing) diesel". Officials said initially the file pertaining to these two issues was moved but then PRSRTC additional managing director K. Vijyendra Pandyan did not take a call and returned the file. He was soon transferred and even his successor, on ad hoc basis, Chief Principal Manager (Administration) Surendra Kumar, did not pay heed to the file.
Tired and disgusted at the callous attitude of the state-run transporter, Kaushik Logistics earlier this month sent it a letter throwing up its hands in despair and saying it could not run the service in these conditions. Kaushal Logistics Manager Wadihul said that the company had given an August 20 deadline but the state government failed to respond. Hence they were forced to stop the service, "which had enough promise if handled well and seriously".