These buses have been inducted under JNNURM
Many of the 1,500 buses inducted under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) into the fleet of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) in the last three years, have become rickety, with broken windowpanes and shattering coaches.
Besides speaking volumes about the quality of the coaches procured at a cost of about Rs. 26 lakh per bus, the condition of these buses pose serious threat to passengers.
In the recent past, two passengers who peeped outside the windows in well-maintained, non-JNNURM buses of the BMTC lost their lives. In this backdrop, one could imagine the fate of passengers sitting besides large windows that have no glass panes.
Women and children travelling with them are the ones exposed to this omission on the part of BMTC as missing windowpanes are on the front-left side of the coaches, abutting seats earmarked for women.
M. Sukanya Ram, a housewife who regularly travels by BMTC with her child, said she prefers to travel standing if a seat on the aisle is not available. “My child’s safety keeps me worried and I avoid occupying the window seat. It also exposes us to the vagaries of nature,” she said.
Stating that the problem was due to weak window pillars, a senior BMTC official concerned said that rectifying it requires considerable time. Also, the passenger load is more between the front and middle door on the left side of the coach. “The transport corporation doesn’t have enough buses and hence, sending them for repair is taking longer time,” he said.
The officer also said that BMTC had one central workshop at Shanthinagar and a small workshop at K.R. Puram to take up major repair works when there were about 2,000 buses. “Now we have 6,000 buses and the number of workshops has not increased,” he said. He said, “We have noticed this problem mainly with Tata buses while Ashok Leyland coaches are in good condition.” Tata buses, in general, demand more maintenance according to drivers and mechanics, the officer said. Another officer, admitting about the lack of sturdiness of Tata buses, said that the problem was due to lack of periodical maintenance.
The transport corporation levied Rs. 28.5 crore penalty, Rs. 25 crore against Tata buses and Rs. 3.5 crore against Ashok Leyland, for delayed supply and defects in these buses funded under JNNURM. The companies, however, coerced the transport corporation by not supplying new buses and the BMTC was compelled to refund the amount at the instance of Transport Minister R. Ashok.