Vijayawada(NTR District): The passengers have been at the receiving end of the owners of food and cooldrink stalls whims, who collect exorbitant rates on purchases more than maximum retail price (MRP) at Pandit Nehru Bus station (PNBS).
Vijayawada bus station is one of the largest bus stations in the country with about 3,000 bus services and with more than 3.5 lakh passengers commuting from this station every day. It is one of the busiest bus stations in India like Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad.
It has 62 platforms with two terminals, besides has 10 platforms for city services. Apart from APSRTC, hundreds of buses from Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha and Chhattisgarh reach this station every day. There are over 146 stalls on the bus stand premises, of which 60 per cent are cool drink shops and others are food stalls and electrical items selling shops.
The departure terminals have almost 70 per cent of the total stalls. With this huge rush, the stall owners and sellers formed a ring to sell items at higher prices more than MRP. They are virtually extorting money from customers on every purchase of food items, soft drinks, popcorn, biscuits and other snacks. Without a choice, passengers are compelled to buy items at an extra rate.
For instance, a passenger has to shell out Rs 25 to Rs 30 to purchase a cool drink, which costs Rs 20 outside. If the MRP of a item is Rs 30, then one should pay Rs 50. In essence, one has to pay Rs 10 to Rs 40 extra to buy any item at Vijayawada bus station.
It is alleged that some of the RTC employees are hand in glove behind this looting. K Kumar of Arisepalli from Machilipatnam, a regular commuter to Vijayawada, said that he purchased a cool drink for Rs 30 at the stall near Machilipatnam bus ticket counter, whose MRP is Rs 20 only. They charge more on water bottles and popcorn also.
The RTC department has set up a mobile number – 9959225467 for receiving complaints regarding high prices. But, the RTC officials allegedly do not mind food and other items being sold at higher prices in the bus station. Because, even if anyone calls, either the phone is always engaged or seldom answered.
Also, the RTC department has pasted a few wall posters in obscure places in the bus terminal asking the commuters ‘to complain if the organisers Also Read – Gold Of Rs 5.6 crore seized from 57 passengers at Tiruchy airport In Tamil Nadu sell items at high prices more than MRP’. Passengers noted that lack of vigilance and enforcement in the largest bus station leads to exploitation of commuters at a high range besides RTC fares.
The Deputy Chief Traffic Manager at PNBS clarified that whenever the issue of collecting high prices at the bus station comes to their purview, they fined the stall organisers heavily. He said that they will levy a fine of Rs 1,000 on the stall concerned if they receive a complaint.
Besides, number of wall posters and banners with mobile number 9959225467 asking passengers to lodge complaints against the violations, are on display across the bus station premises. He asserted that the phone number is working round the clock and three supervisors are working on it in three shifts.
“We urge commuters if anyone have to pay higher rates than MRP to call this number and action will be taken against them,” the Deputy Chief Traffic Manager said.