Varanasi-Kathmandu ‘friendship’ bus service comes to a halt


By NewsGram Staff Writer

Lucknow: The ‘maitreya’ (friendship) bus service between Varanasi and Kathmandu, which started amid much fanfare, has been put to a halt, allegedly due to administrative and financial issues.

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The service, which was started around five months back 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, not even a contract was 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 neither “a written formal contract nor any parameters were set for (providing) diesel”.

Officials said that initially the file pertaining to these two issues was moved but then UPSRTC additional managing director K. Vijyendra Pandyan did not take a call and returned the file. He was soon transferred and even his successor, on emergency 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.

Kaushik 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”.

With inputs from IANS