The Urban Development Ministry may have made the funding of quality public transport a priority in its 100-day agenda, but not all states are moving fast enough to utilise central funds.
Delhi seems to be one of them.
Though the Centre has sanctioned 1,500 low-floor buses for Delhi and released the first installment, the national capital has not sent it proof of a single bus purchase order yet.
Karnataka has done far better: Mysore already has 40 JNNURM-funded buses on its roads, out of the 150 that were sanctioned. Bangalore has a functional fleet of 39 buses, out of 1,000 sanctioned. JNNURM stands for Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
The Central package to 61 cities is meant to boost public transport by financing half the cost of 15,000 buses.
Purchase orders of 8700 buses have already been made across India. All the buses are expected to be on the roads by December 2009.
“The sanctioning part is practically done. It’s just a matter of assessing the procurement now,” Urban Development Secretary M. Ramachandran told HT.
Why we need to catch up
Delhi has 56 lakh motor vehicles today, about equal to its human population in 1981. A total of 8.6 lakh of these are cars and jeeps, higher than the combined number for Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The money value of the fuel wasted in Delhi at traffic signals: Rs 1,000 crore a year!
This apart, Delhi badly needs better public transport by the time of the Commonwealth Games next year.
Though the city has claimed it has ordered 625 buses, central officials dismiss the claim in the absence of copies of bus-purchase orders.
The procedure is this: the Centre sanctions a specific number of buses for each city and releases half the intended money as advance. In return, it demands weekly reports indicating the number of buses ordered for each city, with a copy of the purchase order as proof. If satisfied, it releases the second installment: 40 percent of the total amount. The last 10 percent is released after further assessing the progress made.
The states place orders for buses with companies like TATA, Ashok Leyland, Eicher Motors, Volvo and Swaraj Mazda.