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DTC buses to Lahore get a fresh coat of paint

Priya Solomon in New Delhi | May 05, 2003 21:58 IST

Two buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation are getting special treatment. One of them recently got a fresh coat of paint and the other is waiting its turn.

The two air-conditioned buses in the recent past had carried forth hundreds of men, women and children across the tense Indo-Pak border.

Since India snapped all bilateral ties with Pakistan after the December 13 Parliament attack of 2001 the two buses have been running on the Delhi-Dehradun route from the Jamuna Nagar terminal in East Delhi.

While a lease of fresh paint may have been 'due' in normal course as DTC officials clarify, they also accept that a 'fresh look' has led to the speculation that it may be in preparation for the government's 'forthcoming announcement' to resume the Lahore bus service.

In fact one of the buses was taken to the Indraprastha headquarters of the Delhi Transport Corporation for an inspection. A senior DTC official sought to put down the inspection as 'routine'.

"Since it has to run a long distance and that too between India and Pakistan the condition of the bus has to be taken into account for security and other reasons," an official from the DTC told on Monday.

Before India snapped ties with Pakistan, there was regular air, road and rail link between the two countries. Besides, the Delhi-Lahore bus and Samjhauta Express there were regular flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Karachi and Lahore.

Even as India awaits a reciprocal response from Pakistan on its offer of resuming air links, officials, both at the DTC and in the Railways, said they were prepared for the resumption of the services whenever an announcement is made.

An official in the railway ministry told, "The Samjhauta Express has been running smooth for long and not much preparation is needed if India decides to start the service again."

"The lines are there, the system is in place, we can start the service in a fortnight after an order. But presently we have no such indication from the government," the official said.

While the Lahore bus was inaugurated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999, the Samjhauta Express has been running for more than two decades. The service started in 1976 following the Simla agreement of 1971.

Both the bus and train routes run from Delhi through Haryana, into Punjab and then to Pakistan. In Punjab both pass through Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar district.

As for the air links, Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters last weekend that India was in a position to resume civil aircraft flights the moment Islamabad responded.

Pakistani officials, however, told that resumption of direct flights might take some time. The offices of the Pakistan International Airlines have to be renovated and the initial staff comprising a manager and an accountant will have to take charge first.

"But to come to India they will also need a visa that takes minimum of one month," a Pakistan high commission official said. The Pakistan high commission that has been functioning with less than one-fourth staff would also need to be reinforced.

"To meet the visa demands we need more people here. While presently there are just 10-20 visa applications daily, in case the transport links are resumed there would be around 500-600 applications everyday," the official said.

Similar steps would have to be taken by Indian high commission in Pakistan too.

"Pakistan is expected to make the formal announcement soon," the diplomat said, pointing out that in principle it has been agreed. "Our response is always positive. It is the Indian side which had closed the airspace, we are all for it," the official added.

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Number of User Comments: 3

Sub: A big mistake from Bharatiya Janatha Party

Resumption of buss service to Lahore?That would be the utter mistake if they planning to do so, when ever India goes for talks and sings ...

Posted by Sridhar Gopu

Sub: A start with a destination to nowhere...

I personally congratulate the decission of our PM to initiate this Peace process. But lets not forget that earlier he responded as no talks unless ...

Posted by Biswajit

Sub: peace with pakistan

Peace is what India and Pakistan need.even though mistakes have been made on both sides in the past but you have got to start somwhere........... ...

Posted by shahid malik


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