This is the place that Chennai MTC does not want you to see. It’s where good buses are turned into junk, left to rust and die.

The Chromepet MTC depot, about a kilometre from the suburban railway station, is a ghost yard.

There are abandoned Volvos, which are at most 8 years old. There are of course scores of the less expensive buses from Leyland and Tata, which have departed from a useful life. Their rusting bodies just lie there, killed by some mysterious management disease.

On Monday, I was passing by and noticed these buses through the gate. I took the pictures that you see here, and that set off panic among a couple of staffers, one of whom had seen me.

I had walked almost one km further, when two men on a scooter came behind me, wanting to know why I took pictures.

“Who are you,” I asked.

“Staff,” said the rider. When I told them I was a journalist, they became a little cautious but were still pressing on that pictures should not be taken.

“Why, is it some secret,” I asked.

“No. No. Nothing. It’s full of bushes there. So just wanted to know,” the rider in a lungi said. His scooter had a crude MTC sticker on the front.

“What’s your name. Give me your phone number,” I demanded. He declined. The man on his pillion said he was not staff. Both went away.

Who sent these men? What does MTC have to hide, especially in the wake of the steep fare hike?

We need a judicial inquiry into the state of our transport corporations. A Volvo bus could not turn into junk in 8 years unless there is monumental corruption in this Corporation.

Why is not the DMK revealing the truth? What are LPF, its labour wing, and the Left Unions like CITU hiding? Are they involved in what’s going on?

The last photo is that of a disused MTC industrial training institute. Why is it abandoned? This was paid for by tax payers. Should it not be used to train some youth in skills? Even if they don’t go to work for MTC?

Update: Since the publication of this post, I got the following response from a senior government official, making the point that MTC buses have actually been used way beyond their “scrap by” date. Here’s what the official says (unedited):

A judicial enquiry into how buses that should have been condemned otherwise where allowed to continue to be utilised till the point of total breakdown – would be in order. I can be of help. Some facts : long distance buses should be condemned immediately after 3 years or 7 lakh kilometres whichever is earlier and other buses should be condemned immediately after 6 years or 7 lakh kilometres whichever is earlier. On both counts, the Volvo buses should have been condemned way beyond the time they were allowed to be in operation.