BENGALURU: With Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s (BMTC) proposal to procure 2,658 new buses caught in legal wrangles, the corporation is not only forced to operate aged buses but also stands to lose JnNURM funding for 500 buses.
Last week, the Centre asked the state government to spend the sanctioned funds under JnNURM since the city-modernisation scheme will end in March 2017. BMTC officials say they are unable to procure new buses, including under JnNURM, because of a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order that restrains it from purchasing new diesel vehicles.
When contacted, BMTC managing director Ekroop Caur said the delay in induction of JnNURM buses is because of two reasons. “In August 2014, work order was issued to a company to supply 500 buses. But the company did not supply the buses. After waiting for more than 18-20 months, the BMTC board decided to cancel the work order and go in for fresh tenders. The second process has got delayed after Scania approached the court because they could not participate in the tender within the stipulated time. This has further delayed the process of purchase by more than three months,” she said.
Sources say BMTC is unlikely to procure buses before March and the corporation will lose funds if the Centre doesn’t extend the deadline under JnNURM. This is mainly because of the NGT order that restrains it from purchasing new diesel vehicles. The NGT order came after a Bengaluru resident petitioned it asking BMTC to procure environment-friendly CNG buses. However, BMTC officials are not in favour of it claiming that they are costlier than diesel buses. Ekroop Caur said, “If the NGT order is vacated then there should be no problem.” BMTC has not bought a single bus since December 2014 due to various reasons.
Many regular bus passengers are unhappy over the delay in getting new buses. “We have been waiting for new buses. The existing buses are really old and badly maintained. There are several instances of bus breakdowns, especially in peak hours, forcing people to opt for taxis or autorickshaws,” said K Manjunath, a regular bus passenger in Koramangala.
Sources say the delay in procuring buses has forced BMTC to operate aged buses which often break down on busy city roads causing traffic congestion. BMTC guidelines suggest that a bus that has to run more than 8 lakh km or is 10 years old, should be removed from the fleet.