It is now confirmed that the Metropolitan Transport Corporation of Chennai, the monopoly bus operator, has not attended a single meeting of the Transport Regularity Authority reported to have been set up by the Karunanidhi government under the Union Government’s mandatory requirements for financial assistance.
In the context of this discussion, the TRA referred to is a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority. The question posed to MTC under the RTI was, “Has MTC attended any meeting of a newly formed Transport Regulatory Authority in Chennai during 2008-10? If yes, what was the decision taken on integrating rail and bus service in Chennai, as required under Ministry of Urban Development’s Total Mobility Plan covering JNNURM assistance?”
“MTC has not attended in the meeting of a newly formed Transport Regularity Authority in Chennai during 2008-2010” says a response from the Appellate Authority of the Corporation, which has been availing assistance under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission. The JNNURM and the National Urban Transport Policy require that States set up UMTAs for cities, in order to qualify for funding.
This assertion makes it clear that the DMK and unwittingly, its partner, the Congress, have been duping the people of Chennai about transport reform.
Under the circumstances, it means little whether there is one MTC or two, as today’s news reports announce.
The attitude of the DMK Government to the TRA also makes the future of the Chennai Metro Rail very doubtful. After all, what can a party with so little commitment to commuters provide with a Metro? It will be another system run as per the whims and fancies of the party brass, not as a professional transit system. Integration of buses and trains will remain a wish.
If this situation is to be averted, the Japanese funding agency for the Rs.14,000 crore-plus Metro project should stipulate the operational norms for the Chennai Metro Rail, and monitor the progress every step of the way. There should also be transparency on what has been done so far, using the CMRL website.
In answer to several questions on its future plans for Chennai bus transport, the monopoly bus corporation MTC has refused to provide answers, citing section 8 (1) (d) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
We will pursue that part of the petition in the State Information Commission.