McLeod Ganj bus station closure causes difficulties to travellers
By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 1 June 2019
The McLeod Ganj bus station has been closed since two weeks ago, due to a disagreement between authorities and the contractor of the facility.
When this reporter enquired about the closure, the authorities concerned as well as the contractor were tight-lipped about it.
The closure began on 22 May, and since then no buses are coming up to McLeod, but are instead terminating their journey in Dharamshala. Many buses usually ply to McLeod Ganj daily — for example at least 20 buses from Delhi every day. The car parking facility within the premises is also closed.
Taxis are now ferrying bus passengers between McLeod and Dharamshala where the buses now terminate, making extra expense for travellers.
It has now been learned from reports that the McLeod Ganj bus stand and car parking facility were built on the “build-operate-transfer” basis by the Himachal Pradesh Bus Stand and Management Authority under the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC). The contractor was allotted land by the HRTC to construct the bus stand and car parking facility and run it for 40 years.
The bus station facility was constructed some 15 years ago, but is still incomplete. During the monsoon season, the floors are flooded with monsoon rain.
The bus station had not been constructed according to approved plans. Pankaj Chadha, Regional Manager of HRTC Dharamshala, said the HRTC recently issued an order that the contractor was not entitled to collect parking fees. The contractor closed the parking facility after the orders, and closed the bus stand as well.
It has been learned that the bus stand had already been mired in controversy, as the contractor also constructed a building to house a hotel and shopping complex on reserve forestland opposite the bus stand. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had declared the building illegal in 2016, and construction was stopped since then.
The closure of vital bus transportation as well as parking facility in the peak tourist season has created traffic chaos in McLeod Ganj. Since few hotels in the area have their own parking facility, private cars have no place to park.
Members of the hotel association of McLeod Ganj have urged the district administration to resolve the problem at the earliest. It is not clear when the facility will be opened, and local people and tourists alike are bearing the brunt.