JNNURM buses: Centre warns States

Says it will withdraw funds following delay by governments in procuring buses

August 25, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 29, 2016 05:19 pm IST - MANGALURU:

The Union government, which had included funding for urban buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to improve urban mobility, has taken strong exception to the inordinate delay by State governments, including Karnataka, in procuring buses and furnishing periodical compliance reports.

It has warned the governments about withdrawal of sanction as well as funds already released, if the reports are not furnished immediately. The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) had sanctioned 12,000 buses under the scheme in 2013-14, including 2,104 for Karnataka.

In a recent letter to all State governments, the MoUD said it had released Rs. 884.21 crore (Rs. 193.68 crore for Karnataka) for 7,509 buses to 18 States (1,701 for Karnataka) covering 114 cities. However, the Ministry has received information for procurement of only 2,288 buses (97 from Karnataka) till July 2015. It said the government has taken it seriously as the funds meant for people’s welfare has been kept unutilised for the last one year. “Hence, it has been decided that funds already released may be withdrawn with interest and the sanction may be cancelled in case the State governments do not furnish the reports before August 24,” the letter said.

Time sought

The State government, however, has its own reason for the delay in procurement of buses. Additional Chief Secretary (Transport and Energy) P. Ravi Kumar told The Hindu that the government has sought some more time and relaxations in rules following practical difficulties in following some guidelines.

There is no need to worry as the government is confident of the Centre accepting State’s request, he said. While deployment of hybrid buses in million plus cities would be cost prohibitive, the road transport corporations would need subsidy to run buses on CNG, he said.

As far as normal buses are concerned, the corporations have been undertaking testing of prototype buses. Once the tests are over and the corporations are satisfied with their performance, orders would be placed for full-fledged procurement. One of the manufacturers, Ashok Leyland, has supplied only one ordinary low floor bus as against 10 prototype buses, he pointed out.

The government went for testing of prototype buses after a particular model from a renowned manufacturer came under severe criticism for its lopsided performance. The corporations, thereafter, are asked to procure buses only after thorough testing.

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