Election code hits municipal transport units’ upgrade plans

With the model code of conduct in place for the Lok Sabha elections,municipal transport units in the state,including those in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region...

Written by PrashantRangnekar | Mumbai | Published:March 29, 2009 4:21 am

With the model code of conduct in place for the Lok Sabha elections,municipal transport units in the state,including those in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR),are awaiting the approval of the Election Commission to place orders for new buses.

According to municipal transport unit officials,the tenders for buying new buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) were floated before the code of conduct came into effect and they have received bids for the same. However,owing to the model code of conduct,these bids cannot be opened. The orders for new buses have to placed before the end of the fiscal year while the code of conduct ends only on May 16.

On Thursday,the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) committee meeting was cut short as it could not arrive at any decision on the purchase of 800 buses under the JNNURM scheme.

“The decision should be made before March 31 or else the funds will lapse and we will have to repeat the process in the next financial year,” BEST chairman Pravin Chedda said.

“We have approached the state government and we hope to find a solution soon,” said Shashi Damodaran,chairman of Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT). “We had floated tenders and have even got response from companies like Volvo,Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors,but we cannot open the bids as that would mean violation of the code.”

The NMMT is planning to buy around 150 buses under JNNURM. Even the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC)-managed TMT is stuck with a same situation. “We have written to the state government about this,” said TMT commissioner Nandkumar Jantre.

The transport sector in the MMR is expected to get a boost with the acquisition of more buses as this means new bus services and phasing out of old buses.

“The Centre has issued letters to the state government,saying that the ongoing projects should not be affected owing to the code of conduct. The state steering committee is looking into the grievances of the municipal transport units,” said state urban development secretary T C Benjamin.

STUCK IN WAY
BEST
: 800 buses
TMT: 200 buses
NMMT: 150 buses
KDMT: 150 buses

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