Dindigul is the only corporation that boasts of having a bus stand that has six entrances that also function as exits. This creates chaos within the bus stand, with commuters running helter-skelter as some buses make their way in, while others use the same route to exit. Not just for the floating population to the terminus, even for regular commuters it is a tight balancing act getting in and out of buses..
The bus stand caters not just to town buses but also to mofussil buses going to Palani, Tiruchi, Kodaikanal and to cities down south. On an average daily around 1000 government buses come into the bus stand with a daily passenger traffic of more than one lakh during Kodaikanal season and Palani temple festival. Even the route taken by the buses from the National Highways to reach the bus stand within the Dindigul corporation limits is a narrow stretch with residential areas on either side.
Inside the premises the bus bays have been encroached to such an extent that some eateries also provide seating arrangements on this space. Littering is evident everywhere and almost all nooks have turned into a cesspit and are filled with broken liquor bottles. Consumer activist Rajesh Kannan, says that though there are 48 surveillance cameras, they are not in working condition due to poor maintenance.
“There are many stretches that are poorly lit and at night these areas turn unsafe for women passengers,” he adds. Some commuters say that chain snatching and theft is a common occurrence in the bus stand premises. Stationing of women police personnel is a must, they add.
With no proper cloakroom facilities, passengers travelling long distances have a tough time guarding their luggage. One cannot even enter the free restrooms for not only are they unclean but at night they turn into a joint for drug addicts, Mr. Kannan says and adds that the ones that are charged are locked during night time. One part of the shopping complex at the bus stand that faces the Collector’s camp office has been locked due to legal issues. This portion has become a haven for the homeless and the mentally-challenged can be seen lying there in squalor.
Sixty-year-old Gunaseeli, a passenger, says that she dreads coming to the bus stand as there is no place even to sit and during the rainy season there is no shelter. “It is a good example of how not a bus stand should be,” she says.
Steps being taken
Dindigul Corporation Commissioner R. Maheswari, says that renovation of the bus stand will begin soon and a ₹ 5-crore proposal has been sent to the government for approval.
Recently, Minister for Rural Development I. Periyasamy also announced that Dindigul city would soon get a moffusil bus stand.
K. Balabharathi, a CPI (M) member and former MLA from Dindigul says, renovation of the bus stand is a welcome proposal but it’s time that a separate bus stand is built for the mofussil buses on lands available adjacent to any of the National Highways. Like the one near Thondiarpuram on the Madurai bypass, she adds.
Corporation authorities say that a proposal for building a bus stand at Murugabhawanam at a cost of Rs 45 crore is being finalised.
Ms. Balabharathi points out that this would not solve the issue as the area is within the city limits and buses coming from Natham, Karaikudi and Madurai will have to again come through the city. Even the entrance to the proposed site is narrow with commercial establishments on either side.
Smart city project
Calling Dindigul a corporation is a misnomer, says G. Dhanapalan, BJP district president and the 14th ward councillor. As the corporation did not meet various criteria including tax collection, population figures and the number of wards, no funds were allocated for it under the smart city projects.
He points out that funds for creation of bus stands under smart city projects can be tapped if more panchayat wards on the periphery of the city are brought within the corporation limits. But as many mills and education institutions are located in these areas, there is an unwillingness among the people to come into the city limits due to a higher tax regime they will have to face.
This hesitancy to incorporate more number of wards within the corporation limits is hindering the building of various infrastructure, say corporation officials.