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Expert support for transport utility’s PPP route,with a rider

The decision of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited to go for a public-private partnership has received flak from almost all quarters.

Written by Ranjani Raghavan | Pune |
June 17, 2009 11:38:25 pm

The decision of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) to go for a public-private partnership (PPP) has received flak from almost all quarters. But for the first time,one organisation has come forward to appreciate the step taken by the PMPML.

The Central Institute for Road Transport (CIRT) is in favour of the utility’s decision,but with some riders. The CIRT has in fact recommended the PPP model to utilities in other cities too,where it is a consultant.

R Balasubramanium,CIRT director,has said the PPP model is not a bad option for Pune if public bus service is to be improved. “Public bus utilities tend to have excess manpower. Employees are also not faithful to the organisation because of which inefficiencies tend to crop up,” he said.

However,Balasubramanium,who has had hands-on experience in heading six bus utilities in Tamil Nadu for 18 years,has suggested that the PMPML retain the ownership of the buses. He has cautioned against following the Delhi model where the Blueline buses,run by private individuals,gained notoriety as killer buses’.

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The CIRT is a consultant for Kalyan Dombivili bus utility where a version of the PPP model has been proposed. “The Kalyan-Dombivili bus utility has received 50 per cent funding for 150 buses. They have gone for full ownership of 75 buses. The other 75 buses will be bought by private operators,who will run under the same permit of Kalyan-Dombivili,but will pay the bus utility Rs 2 per km as royalty,” he said.

The decision to go for the PPP model comes at a time when bus utilities in metros like Chennai,Delhi,Mumbai and Bangalore have decided on complete public ownership of buses,wherein the buses will be bought using the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds. R K Verma,Managing Director of DTC,said they had gone for full ownership of the buses.

Other leading cities have also kept away from the PPP model. In fact,Uttam Khobragade,Managing Director of BEST in Mumbai,said he was vehemently opposed to the PPP model. “It is not as profitable as it is made out to be,” he said.

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The BEST,which is also working under accumulated losses of Rs 150 crore,placed orders for 1,000 buses a month-and-a-half ago. Pune,on the other hand,is yet to invite tenders for buying buses through the JNNURM funds.

Pune will get 50 per cent of the amount required for buying 650 buses from the central government. JNNURM rules stipulate that 20 per cent of the total amount should come from the state government while the other 30 per cent should come from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations.

The PMPML board members said only the central government grant is guaranteed as the state government is yet to decide whether it will be able to shell out its share for buying buses through the the JNNURM funding scheme. The Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Corporations have not officially denied the PMPML their share of the JNNURM fund,but have argued that incorporating private ownership is more efficient and will reduce establishment costs for PMPML,which is operating under heavy losses.

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“The modality of running the buses is not as important as the modality of successful operation,” said a senior state government officer,who argued that the PMPML will score in increased frequency,better travel time and more comfortable buses via the PPP route.

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First published on: 17-06-2009 at 11:38:25 pm

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