The state government has decided to form a separate company under the special purpose vehicle (SPV) entity to run all Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) buses.

The government currently operates 320 such buses with the help of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). Meanwhile, the Union ministry of urban development has sanctioned 400 more buses for the state during the second meeting of the central sanctioning and monitoring committee (CSMC), held in New Delhi on Wednesday.

“The SPV will be formulated in three months after discussions with various department heads and ministers. We have been directed to operate the JNNURM buses as a company separate from the state-run public transport corporation,” said local self-government department principal secretary James Varghese.

He added that the CSMC has permitted the state to use JNNURM buses for cluster service. “While the 320 buses currently in operation are to be operated for city services, we can use the newly-announced buses for cluster service. We have divided the state into five clusters. Major cities in each cluster will be connected to nearby towns and villages in the district or neighbouring districts. For instance, buses allotted to the Kozhikode cluster will be operated to towns in Malappuram and Wayanad,” said Varghese.

On the recent high court direction to the government that JNNURM bus services should be limited to city limits, the officer said that once a policy decision is made on the inter-city services, the issue could be sorted out. “The policy planning will be made in three months. With the SPV also expected to be formulated in three months, we hope to purchase the new buses in six months from now,” he added.

Once the SPV is formulated, the JNNURM service can be operated in the public private partnership (PPP) model. At present, KSRTC employees are being deployed to operate JNNURM buses. Once the SPV is formulated, the SPV will have to have its own employees. Either KSRTC employees can be deputed for the purpose or the entire operation can be run on PPP model, as successfully practized in many states.

Times of India