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State gives bus plan fund push

- Double-door vehicles to ply in capital

The state government will partly fund the procurement of 460 buses — 400 for the city and 60 for Bodhgaya — after the project failed to attract private firms.

The urban development department would start procuring the buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), by the end of December.

Quashing its earlier stand of procuring the buses under public-private partnership (PPP) mode, the urban development department has decided to use state funds.

Announcing the decision, department secretary S. Siddharth told The Telegraph: “We have decided that state funds would be utilised to procure all buses under the JNNURM. Tender documents for this purpose have been prepared and they would be floated in a couple of days. We intend to start the actual procurement by December end. The buses are likely to be operated either by Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo) or any dedicated agency to be formed for the purpose.”

The department had tried to execute the scheme in PPP mode by inviting expressions of interest from private bus operators in June 2009 and February 2010. While the private operator was expected to pay 50 per cent of the cost of each bus, the Union government was supposed to pay rest using JNNURM funds. However, both attempts proved futile because the department did not receive a single bid.

However, according to the new decision, 50 per cent of the cost of the 400 buses for Patna would come from the JNNURM funds and the rest would be borne by the state. For the 60 buses in Bodhgaya, 80 per cent of the cost would come from the JNNURM and the state would fund the rest.

The department is also formulating a slew of measures to ensure smooth operations of these buses.

“The new buses would have two doors. The existing city service buses have only one door. The department is in the final stages of preparing the route chart for the buses. Conductors would compulsorily need to wear uniforms. Moreover, the practices regarding reserved seats for women, senior citizens and differently abled persons would be strictly followed,” said Siddharth.

Apart from buses, the issue related to a sufficient number of well-maintained buses is also being addressed. “We are going to construct a number of new bus stops in the city in public-private partnership mode. Private firms would set up the bus stops and then rent out advertisement space to generate revenue,” said Siddharth.

The urban development department is the nodal agency for the implementation of the JNNURM in the state. Sources said the central sanctioning and monitoring committee of the JNNURM at its 69th meeting on February 20 and 21, 2009, had approved the purchase of buses for Patna and Bodhgaya under the urban transport scheme of urban infrastructure and governance sub-mission of the JNNURM for a collective amount of Rs 135 crore.