Even though it is a month since a battery-operated transport vehicle was test-driven inside the city zoo by the Minister for Tourism himself, the Department of Museums and Zoos is yet to take a final call on how these vehicles are to be purchased.

The zoo is looking to buy four of these vehicles designed to provide a noise-free, pollution-free ride through the sprawling zoo premises.

Two will be 16-seaters and the other two, eight-seaters. At full charge, the vehicles can ply 110 km at a maximum speed of 55 km/hr.

This translates to a running cost of 75 paise a kilometre. The vehicles cost between Rs.5 and 15 lakh depending on the seating capacity. So what is the glitch.

According to Zoo Director K. Udaya Varman, the department is yet to take a call on whether to go in for a direct purchase or to float a tender for the scheme.

A direct purchase has the advantage that the zoo will get the vehicle of its specification from the Chennai-based company, whose vehicle was test-driven by the Minister. The aim is to get this at a discounted price from the company’s dealer.

If the department chooses to go in for a tender, it cannot pre-specify the norms because it will mean that the tender can be taken only by the Chennai-based firm. This will violate the existing tender norms. According to Mr. Varman, a final call on this matter may be taken by the officials concerned by January 2013. Till then aged visitors and young children can only grin and bear the trudge through the undulating terrain of the city’s zoological garden. The Chennai-based firm has supplied similar vehicles to the Hyderabad zoo and to the Delhi airport. These vehicles are already in use Tamil Nadu, Jharkand, and Karnataka.The vehicles can be fitted with plug-in devices to control their speed. An auto guide programme can also be installed in these battery-operated vehicles which can also be used to transport cargo.The zoo is also yet to take a final decision on the ticket price for a ride on these vehicles.