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JNNURM buses for towns

- Union ministry’s nod to 1500 vehicles for Assam

Guwahati, Dec. 19: Buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme will now ply in the district headquarters towns of Assam.

The Union ministry of urban development has given the nod to another 1,500 buses under the scheme.

“We have submitted the detailed project report and the relevant guidelines to the Centre. The process has started and the urban development ministry has assured us that it will provide an additional 1,500 buses of which, 1,000 will cater to commuters in the districts while 500 will ply in and around Guwahati,” state transport minister Chandan Brahma said today.

Till date, the buses under the modernisation scheme had only plied in and around Guwahati since it was introduced in 2008-2009. Currently, there are over 130 JNNURM buses plying while some of them are under repair.

“This is a move to improve the transport system further and take the benefits to towns such as Jorhat, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Nagaon, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Dhubri and Kokrajhar among others. As it is, we have always emphasised on rural connectivity. There will be more buses connecting the hinterland in the years to come,” Brahma said.

The minister said his department would strive towards making the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) “the best in the country”.

“We will try to make the corporation the number one in the country. But we also need to upgrade and strengthen the transport system. We need to involve more private players in our projects and also see that we sustain them. Hence, the schemes need to be both income and service-oriented,” the minister said.

The corporation has 2,050 buses under its operation. Over the years, a number of low-floor buses too have been introduced under the scheme to make travel in the city a comfortable experience.

The JNNURM was launched by the urban development ministry in 2005 to encourage cities to initiate steps to bring about phased developments in civic service levels. The ministry had recently approved 400 buses for Chandigarh.

Asked about the encroachment threat that looms on land belonging to the transport department, the minister said, “The transport department will not allow any land to be encroached.”

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, while speaking at the inauguration of the ASTC multi-level car parking facility at Paltan Bazar here today, had said a strong public transport system was a yardstick of development.

“It is important to strengthen the public transport system in the state which is a yardstick of development for any city in the country,” Gogoi said.