Cabinet to take a decision on proposal soon

Five special purpose vehicles (SPVs) will be floated to operate and manage 400 low-floor buses to be procured under the extended Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme for 12 districts in the State.

The proposal to float them is before the Cabinet, and a decision will be taken soon to get the funds released from the Mission, Urban Affairs Minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali told The Hindu here on Monday.

Since 2009, 313 JNNURM buses have been operating services in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi under the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). Now, the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC), chaired by Union Urban Affairs Secretary Sudhir Krishna, insists on floating the special purpose vehicles to release the funds for placing orders.

The proposal to set up a special bus unit under the KSRTC had to be shelved as the employees opposed it, fearing that floating such an entity would result in the bifurcation of the corporation. The operation and management of the JNNURM buses in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram will now have to be decided afresh.

Clusters

The 12 districts have been grouped into five clusters based on the demographic profile. With the KSRTC out of the radar, sources said, the urban local bodies in these districts will have a major say in the operation of the buses.

Cluster I comprising Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram will get 100 buses; II of Kottayam, Thodupuzha and Pathanamthitta 85; III of Kannur and Kasaragod 30; IV of Thrissur and Palakkad 85; and V of Kollam and Alappuzha 100.

The State had submitted a detailed project report for Rs. 649.55 crore, pitching for 1,011 buses under the extended JNNURM scheme to encourage the public to prefer public transport to personalised modes of transport. Of the 2,433 buses allotted to six States at the September 26 meeting of the CSMC, Kerala got only 400.

Semi-low-floor, non-air-conditioned buses will form the bulk of the 400. Those costing Rs.30 lakh each will make up 45 per cent of the fleet and those costing Rs.40 lakh, 30 per cent. The remaining will be premium air-conditioned buses of Rs. 90 lakh each.