New Delhi: Although the deadline expired at least a fortnight ago, only 10 out of 54 cities that received grants to buy buses under a Union government scheme have placed orders for the vehicles, two officials said.
Under this scheme, which is part of the government’s fiscal stimulus package for the auto industry, the cities were required to place their orders for buses by 31 March and acquire them by June.
The cities that have placed orders include Tirupati, Visakhapatnam, Bangalore, Mysore and Mumbai, the officials said.
The scheme is being administered through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission under which 65 mission cities are being given grants ranging from 35% to 90% of the cost of urban infrastructure projects, provided they undertake a set of mandatory reforms.
In the two months since the scheme was announced early this year, the ministry of urban development has approved the purchase of some 14,000 buses by these cities, according to an urban development ministry official, who didn’t want to be identified.
The finance ministry also sanctioned nearly Rs1,000 crore towards the scheme, the official added.
The Election Commission had recently approved the plan to purchase the buses, as long as they do not appear on the roads until the model code of conduct—which prescribes ethical standards for political parties to follow—is in force, till the end of the final phase of the general election on 16 May.
“Ten (cities) have finished (making) the purchases. The rest are under process,” said another official with the urban development ministry, who also declined to be identified.
The official said the ministry will soon conduct a review and take up the matter with the respective states.
Meanwhile, some analysts said a deadline of 31 March was too hard on those cities that had never operated a bus network before.
“Here, there are cities that have never had a bus service earlier. They obviously will not be able to procure at the same speed. In many of the cities where it (the bus service) is coming up for the first time, they have to set up the institutional arrangements (first),” said a consultant, who didn’t want to be identified because he was advising some cities on setting up the projects.