Dharmalingam Venugopal’s commitment to environmental issues in general and welfare of the Nilgiris in particular, is well known. Being the founder of “Save The Nilgiris” campaign and as director/founder of ‘Nilgiris Documentation Center’, he has done a lot.
He is contesting the forth coming Tamil Nadu state assembly elections from the Ooty constituency. We have great pleasure to endorse his candidature and hope committed people like this native of the Nilgiris and a Badaga, who understand the problems of the place and people, will be elected.
The details about what he has done as a social worker and environmentalist can be seen here -> ‘VOTE for OOTY’
– Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash
Dharmalingam Venugopal – Coordinator – Vote for Ooty
One of starkest ironies of Ooty is the fact that while the tourists go about in fleets of luxury buses the local commuters have to herd themselves into run down government buses.
Till 1974 bus transport in the Nilgiris was in the hands of well run transport companies such as Mettupalayam-Coimbatore Service (MCS), National Motor Service, United National Service, Union Bus Service and Rajalakshmi Motor Service, the last one exclusively commuting between Ooty and Mysore. The bus services were known for their cleanliness and punctuality.
In 1974 public transport in Nilgiris was ‘nationalized’ as part of a grandiose scheme of the then government for the ‘progressive nationalization of the passenger transport system’ in the state. Since then the scheme got stalled or diluted by successive state governments. Today most parts of the state have the benefit of competitive service by both state and private transport operators.
In the Nilgiris, state run transport functioned efficiently for a few years and has steadily deteriorated over the years as the demand outstripped supply with the district growing in all directions. However, status quo has been maintained in Nilgiris alone despite several legal and other representations by citizens groups in the district drawing attention to the woeful condition of the public transport and review of the policy.
The Nilgiri public not only has to put up with the shortage of public buses and their poor maintenance, they have to also shell out a higher fare. Mini buses which have been in operation for sometime have hardly come to the commuters expectations.
Continued monopoly of public transport by the state government in Nilgiris even after it has grown into an important commercial centre for tea, tourism and education is an anachronism which has persisted for no reason.
The state run buses are reported to be incurring a loss Rs.7 per km on the hills. One devious way to cut losses seems to restrict the services and overload the buses. Only throwing open the hill roads to open competition will establish the true viability of hill transport.
Voteforooty, a coalition of local people, will highlight this as a major issue in the coming elections demanding that all parties make a commitment to review the policy after the election.