Staff Reporter

The vehicles will be used for all package and conducted tours

BANGALORE: The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) Ltd. has upgraded its fleet of buses by adding 10 super ultra deluxe coaches and three mini coaches.

The buses, which were inaugurated by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Monday, have the latest seating comforts with facilities such as mobile chargers, modern audio technology and built-in air suspension. These buses will become operational shortly and will be used for all KSTDC package and conducted tours.

The corporation has purchased the new buses that include one mini air-conditioned coach and two non air-conditioned coaches at a total cost of Rs. 1.87 crore. With this, the existing fleet of 29 buses, including Volvo buses, deluxe coaches, semi-deluxe coaches, Swaraj Mazda Safari buses, AC mini coach and non-AC mini coaches, has increased to 42, KSTDC officials said.

Luxury tourist train

The long awaited luxury tourist train in Karnataka (similar to the Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan and Deccan Odyssey in Maharashtra) would be operational by October 2007.

The total cost of this project was Rs. 32 crore and the State Government had released its full share of Rs. 16 crore.

While the Union Tourism Ministry had sanctioned Rs 7.85 crore, the Railways would bear the remaining expenditure, the officials said. KSTDC had already placed orders for the luxury tourist train with the Integral Coach Factory and work on the project was under progress. Considering the nature of operations and reservations involved in the luxury tourist train, the facility of online booking was also being explored, the officials said.

KSTDC, which operated 16 hotels, four restaurants and boat clubs at important tourist places, has also entrusted 10 units to private entrepreneurs, one unit to Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd. at Melakamanahalli and 18 units to Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. to establish petroleum outlets and wayside facilities for tourists on a long-term concession basis.

Speaking after the launch, Tourism Minister B. Sriramulu said, "the new buses will help the KSTDC in improving its services. We are doing everything possible to promote tourism in Karnataka with focus on both domestic and international tourists."

Bribery charge

The Minister said that the suspended Bharatiya Janata Party MLC G. Janardhan Reddy would soon withdraw the case he had filed against the Chief Minister.

"Our leader Sushma Swaraj has spoken to him and he has said that he is ready to withdraw the case," he added.

KSTDC chairman I.M. Vittala Murthy and its managing director Prashant Kumar Thakur were present.