Kerala has been asked to set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for operating and managing the buses procured by the State with assistance of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
Setting up the SPV is the main condition put forward to the Local Self-Government Department by the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) on Urban Infrastructure and Governance to release the first tranche of funds for the JNNURM extended scheme.
Official sources told The Hindu that the CSMC had also asked the State to notify the ‘planning area’ as the buses to be procured were to be operated to major towns and cities of 12 districts that had been grouped under five clusters.
Already, the government had initiated steps to comply with the two conditions and get the funds for placing orders for purchasing JNNURM buses.
At present, the KSRTC is managing and operating 146 buses, including 26 air-conditioned buses, plying in Thiruvananthapuram and 167, including 48 air-conditioned buses, in Kochi that have been purchased under the JNNURM scheme.
The move to set up an SPV and entrust it the JNNURM buses had not been successful although the Kochi Corporation trained the bus crew.
The KSRTC, which is in a financial crisis, is of the view that setting up the SPV will lessen its burden.
The buses will help extend the services from urban to rural areas. As there is no urban-rural divide, the entire State will be covered once the new buses arrive. And the KSRTC, which has a fleet of 6000 buses, need not have to go for new buses.
Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi are among the 61 JNNURM cities that had benefited from the one-time Central assistance of Rs.4,700 crore for purchase of buses five years ago.
Already, the LSGD had set the ball rolling by convening a meeting of the Chief Town Planner and officials of the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (Natpac) to notify the planning area where the buses could operate.
The move to introduce modern buses is encouraging as bus transport makes the most optimum use of the available road space and fossil fuel by transporting the maximum number of people per unit of road space, a transport planner said.