After setting up a bus route to the remote village of Karuppampalayam, Karur District Collector Prabhushankar T Gunalan said that it was a small step for the government, but a giant leap for the village.

A new red and off-white Tamil Nadu public bus parked with people standing next to itImage credit: Twitter/PrabhushankarTGunalan
news Human Interest Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 13:35

A month after taking charge as Karur District Collector, Prabhushankar T Gunalan, IAS was travelling with his team on an official visit when their car was gheraoed by the residents of Karuppampalayam village. But what happened next, he says, led to a series of events that helped him fulfil a 30-year-old demand of the village. Speaking to The News Minute, he says that it is experiences like these that reaffirm why he chose to become an IAS officer 8 years ago.

“On July 15, I was visiting Karuppampalayam to do a routine inspection of development works and MGNREGA works when a crowd stopped me. I immediately got out of the car to ask them what was wrong. They told me that they needed a bus. And that they’d been asking for one for 30 years now,” Prabhu tells TNM.

Karuppampalayam, which lies on the banks of the Amaravati river and located a few kilometres from Karur town, is a village of 300 odd families. For decades together, the families have had to cross the river in order to get to the town as there was no bus service to their village.

“It was a matter of remoteness in terms of geography and not distance. The villagers had to walk 2-3 km to the other side of the river bank to a panchayat named Andankoil in order to catch a bus to Karur town, which also lies on the other side. When the river dried up during the lean months, they found a shortcut and would cross the river on foot or two-wheeler. But public transport that they have been asking for is a legitimate demand as the village lies in a remote location because of its unique geography,” says Prabhu.

Karur collector Prabhushankar photographed with village residents seated inside the bus

In the last few years, the river has always had water as a check dam was built close to the village and water is released regularly.

“So their shortcut route to the town was also cut off and they had to walk long distances to get to the bus stop. When I heard their demand, I went back to my office and contacted the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) General Manager in charge of Karur,” the Collector explains.

Due to the remote location of the village, bus services did not find it profitable to ply all the way into Karuppampalayam. This was the main reason the village never got public transport. “But profitability is not TNSTC’s problem, it’s a government service that does not function to make profits,” Prabhu says.

By July 19, the Karur administration with the TNSTC launched two bus services – one each in the morning and evening – to ply to the village. “The morning bus reaches at 9.15 am and the evening bus comes at 6 pm,” Prabhu adds. With this, Prabhu and his team successfully resolved a 3-decade-old problem forever. 

“It’s a small step for the administration, but a giant leap for the village,” he later tweeted with pictures of the bus and village residents seated inside.

It was in 2013 that Prabhu scored the all India rank 7 in the UPSC exams and then joined the Tamil Nadu IAS cadre.

He adds that the village had good roads and all infrastructure and the only thing that was needed was to include bus routes to the place. “In a sense this was a village that was an outlier incident in everyone’s notice. I’m glad it was brought to my attention and I was able to help. These are the small joys of being an IAS officer,” he adds with a smile.

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