Passengers and conductors are routinely seen at loggerheads with each other over Chillar (loose change) with situation very often reaching boiling point.
Nagpur: This Star is not shining!! Nor it is the Falling Star so that one could wish for a better service. The dreary Star of talking point is Star Bus being operated in the Second Capital City of Nagpur or Orange City. Apart from several other complaints on several fronts, the one that is bogging down the passengers and Bus conductors is the Chillar (Loose change). The Chillar problem has reached to such a pass that it is likely to snowball into a major law and order problem that could witness the Star Bus services off the roads and passengers on the streets huffed and puffed. The Chillar problem is no longer a Chillar (trivial). It has reached to a boiling point with each and every bus operating on city streets witnessing fracas over Chillar. Both by Star conductors and passengers alike.
It has become a routine to witness hot words being exchanged by both the entities. It is seen every passenger takes out notes in the denomination of Rs 10 (or in multiples) for a fare Rs 8, 9, 11, 13 or so. And the conductor demands change of Re 1 or 2 from passengers. The passengers never give Chillar (exception) and the conductors argue hotly for it. Left with no choice, the conductors keep the notes and note it down on reverse of tickets the Chillar to be returned to the passengers at the last respective stops. And here the situation reaches to the flash point. The Star conductors hesitate to return the Chillar (sometimes for genuine shortage of loose change and sometimes to gobble up the extra rupee or two). Then begins the war of words over the Chillar issue. Many a time the passengers give up the demand, rather helplessly, as the bus has to proceed to next stop and sometimes the passengers are hell bent on taking back their hard earned rupee or two. And here the Chillar takes the ugly form. Conductor has no change and the passengers refuse to buckle. No party is ready to blink the first. No common sense is displayed by the warring parties. Most of the times the passengers are at fault. They have plenty of time before boarding a bus to keep the Re 1 or 2 coin with them. Passengers can manage loose change before starting their journey, from home itself knowing that the Star conductors face hundreds of such ‘no change’ passengers on every trip and they cannot stock such enormous number of coins with them.
The Star Bus conductors are also not the holy cow. Some of the conductors are a cunning lot. Even though they possess the required loose change they deliberately refuse to part it with the demanding passengers and write down on reverse of the tickets the change to be returned. But these shrewd Star conductors never intend to return the Chillar to the busy passengers. This way these cunning Star conductors pocket a considerable Chillar at the cost of passengers. Often, the tickets fares are never of an even amount and since the conductors don’t have enough Re 1 or Rs 2 coins, passengers end up paying that much more for the commute. For regular commuters, it can add up to be a pretty significant sum. It is seen many passengers who have forgotten to take back the return amount.
One more shabby way of earning the extra rupees has been adopted by the Star conductors. The modus operandi could be termed “pleas all” operandi but dent all the way the operator’s coffers. The modus operandi is simple: The Star conductors issue tickets of less fare amount. For example, from Pratap Nagar to ST Bus Stand on Jaitala-Pardi route the fare is Rs 11. But the conductors issue tickets of Rs 9 as the passengers have boarded the bus from Abhyankar Nagar. This way, the passengers is given relief of Re 1 and at the same time the conductors keep the Re 1 from the Rs 10 note given to them by passengers. It means the passengers are paying Rs 9 instead of Rs 11 and the conductors are pocketing Re 1 from the Rs 10 note. Both are happy to be spared of Chillar mess. But the loser is Star Bus operator, in both ways.
However, this passenger-conductor deal is limited to a few. The general picture is of confrontation on monstrous proportions.
The day is not far away when this Chillar problem is taking the form of “free-for-all” between the hassled passengers and the Star conductors over the Chillar issue. The worst scenario could be crippling of Star Bus services on city roads with “heckled” conductors and drivers striking the work and “hassled” passengers going on rampage targeting the red buses. The chocolates offered by many traders especially small canteens, hotels and pan shops will not work in Star Bus nor it is feasible. It is better the Star Bus operator in Vansh Nimay Infraprojects Limited (VNIL) hammers out the Chillar problem at the earliest in order to avert a riot-like situation arising out of it.