The Union government on Monday informed the Kerala High Court that it had refused a request by the State government to operate buses allotted to Kochi city under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, to destinations outside the city limits.

When a petition filed against the operation of low floor buses to destinations outside the city limits came up for hearing, Central government standing counsel T. Sanjay also submitted that buses procured under JNNRUM could only be used for city services.

R.K Singh, Director (Urban Transport), Union Ministry of Urban Development, in a statement had said the finance provided under JNNURM was exclusively for operating city bus service. To ensure that the buses procured under JNNURM were utilised exclusively for urban transport, the State had to set up a city-specific wholly-owned Special Purpose Vehicle/umbrella body for controlling and managing the city bus service. The statement had said that the Union Ministry of Urban Development was closely monitoring the implementation of the project along with the State.

The statement said the Centre had provided financial assistance to Kerala as a one-time measure for the purchase of buses under the scheme. Centre sanctioned 200 buses at an estimated cost of Rs.71 crore. The petitioner said low-floor buses need be operated within the city limits as per the JNNURM guidelines. In fact, the grant under the scheme was allotted for procuring AC and non-AC low-floor buses, exclusively for city services. But the KSRTC had violated the norms and guidelines by operating such buses to long distances and outside the city limits.

The petitioner said 50 air-conditioned and 120 non-air-conditioned low floor buses were made available for plying in the city. However, of late, some of these buses were being operated to Thrissur and Kozhikode and other districts.

More In: Kochi