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Court seeks govt. response on JNNURM buses operation

Special Correspondent
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It has been pointed out that JNNURM buses were diverted to destinations outside Kochi.— FILE PHOTO
It has been pointed out that JNNURM buses were diverted to destinations outside Kochi.— FILE PHOTO

A division bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the State government to file an affidavit detailing the number of buses purchased under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the total amount allotted under the scheme.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice K. Vinod Chandran also directed the government to state in the affidavit whether permission had been granted to operate the buses outside city limits.

The directives were issued on a writ petition filed by K.P. Praveen. According to him, KSRTC was operating buses allotted under the JNNURM scheme for Kochi to destinations outside the city limits. The operation of the buses beyond the city limit was against the guidelines of the scheme.

The guidelines provided that the fund allotted under the scheme be used for improving the transport facilities of urban areas. The scheme had envisaged the setting up of a special purpose vehicle or a public body for implementing the scheme. However, the buses bought under the scheme were entrusted with the KSRTC. The petitioner pointed out that some of the buses were diverted to destinations outside the district such as Thrissur and Kozhikode. The petitioner said the action adversely affected passengers in the city, who were already hit by inadequate public transport.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Central government said the KSRTC had informed it that the State had initiated steps for the formation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to supervise the operation of JNNURM buses. However, the Ministry of Urban Development had so far not received any confirmation from the KSRTC or the State government regarding the function of SPV.

It said the buses purchased should be utilised exclusively for urban transport. Kochi had been sanctioned 200 buses at an estimated cost of Rs.71 crore. As many as 162 buses had been purchased so far.

The petitioner also sought a directive to set up a metropolitan transport authority or special purpose vehicle to manage city bus services.

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