The Telegraph
Monday , April 7 , 2014
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AC bus plan hibernates

- Chas cries for lifeline, Ranchi for cool communication

The vengeful sun hasn’t been good reason enough for the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) to roll out the promised low-floor air-conditioned buses in the capital.

Two summers have already gone by since the civic body mooted the idea of launching a fleet of 30 special buses under JNNURM. Of these, 10 were to be air-conditioned. Funds worth Rs 10 crore were earmarked for the buses, which were meant to give a new look to the capital’s transport system.

Currently, the project is in hibernation mode and the fleet of existing city buses under Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation continues to reel from lack of maintenance and funds crunch.

RMC sources said a couple of tenders had been released for the low-floor fleet, but cancelled subsequently. Public relations officer Naresh Kumar Sinha said after they released tenders in mid-2013, they had chosen to hand over manufacturing and fabrication work to two auto majors — Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors.

But later, Tata Motors raised objections to the tender process and was unhappy with pricing. The auto major had stopped manufacturing such buses and wanted higher price. “However, I don’t exactly remember the cost details,” said Naresh.

On being asked why Ashok Leyland was not entrusted with the whole job, Naresh replied: “It was not technically feasible to award the work to a single firm. Moreover, there were complications in terms and conditions regarding sales and services. So, the project had to be put on hold,” he added.

If a senior official of the civic body is to be believed, constant reshuffling in the urban development department and the civic body in the past two years proved to be a major deterrent.

“Also, the project is not as easy to implement as it sounds. Where are proper roads? Many were of the view that the RMC should first focus on repairing existing buses and roads before venturing into an ambitious project. So, the plan is temporarily shelved. We will ponder over the project only after elections,” he said.