The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) has sanctioned another 400 buses for the State to be operated under the JNNURM extended scheme.
For the State, it is a big disappointment, as it had pitched for 1,011 buses at an estimated cost of Rs.649.55 crore to extend the highly popular low-floor JNNURM buses to the remaining 12 districts. Since 2009, 313 buses have been sanctioned for the State. These ply in the State capital and Ernakulam under the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
The State is in receipt of the minutes of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) meeting, chaired by Union Urban Affairs Secretary Sudhir Krishna, in New Delhi on September 26 that cleared the 400 buses for the State, official sources told The Hindu. Among the 2,433 buses allotted to six States, Maharashtra has got the most (900), followed by Kerala and Rajasthan (286). The mission sanctioned 73 buses for Andhra Pradesh, and 50 each for Chhattisgarh and Puducherry.
In addition to the purchase of the buses, the mission will now provide funds to the State for support infrastructure such as bus depots as it wants to replicate the metro rail experience on buses to uplift the brand image of public transport by bus.
The Detailed Project Report for the procurement of the buses was made by Rajan Khobragade, Secretary (Urban Affairs), Local Self-government Department, and Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project Director U.V. Jose before Mr. Krishna.
The main hurdle before the State is how to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for operating and taking care of the buses procured with the JNNURM assistance.
The KSRTC has hinted that it is ready to hand over the 313 buses to the SPV.
Setting up the SPV is the main condition put forward to the Local Self-government Department by the CSMC to release the first tranche of funds to the State under the JNNURM extended scheme.
The State had proposed to operate the buses in major towns and cities of 12 districts that were grouped under five clusters for smooth fleet operation.
A semi-low-floor non-air-conditioned bus (900-mm long) will cost Rs.30 lakh, semi-low-floor non air-conditioned bus (650 mm) Rs.40 lakh, and a premium standard air-conditioned bus Rs.90 lakh.
Compared to the scheme launched five years ago, intelligent transport system, upgrade of depots, and installation of central control room will form part of the JNNURM funding now
. The mission will provide 80 per cent of the estimated cost, and the State will have to bear the rest.