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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Scania luxury bus row: Nitin Gadkari’s office says media report baseless

“The media allegations that in November 2016, Scania delivered a luxury bus to a company that had close ties with Gadkari's sons are malicious, fabricated and baseless,” said a statement issued by Nitin Gadkari’s office on Wednesday.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 11, 2021 12:24:06 pm
Nitin Gadkari bus row luxuryNitin Gadkari (file)

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s office has termed as “malicious, fabricated, and baseless” the findings of international media reports that alleged that Swedish truck and bus manufacturer Scania delivered a luxury bus to Gadkari for use in his daughter’s wedding in 2016.

“The media allegations that in November 2016, Scania delivered a luxury bus to a company that had close ties with Gadkari’s sons are malicious, fabricated and baseless,” said a statement issued by the office of the Union Road Transport and Highways and MSME on Wednesday. “And the allegations that the bus was not paid for and was used for the wedding of Gadkari’s daughter are nothing but a figment of media’s imagination.”

On Wednesday, news agency Reuters quoted a Swedish media report saying Scania delivered a specially equipped bus to a company with connections to Gadkari that was intended for his daughter’s wedding and was not fully paid for.

Denying the allegations, Gadkari’s office said the minister and his family members have “absolutely nothing to do with the purchase or sale of the bus”. “Nor do they have anything to do with any firm or individual who might be linked with the purchase or sale of the bus,” the statement said.

Gadkari’s office said it was an internal affair of the Swedish company. “Since the entire episode of the Scania bus is an internal affair of the Swedish company, it will be prudent for the media to wait for an official statement by Scania India which handled the matter,” it said.

In an email response to queries from The Indian Express, Scania said the company did sell the Scania Metrolink bus to one of its Bengaluru-based dealers called Transpro Motors, which in turn sold it to a company named Sudarshan Hospitality, which it said, was “an Indian bus operator”. Sudarshan Hospitality is based out of Nagpur.

The company denied sending any bus to Gadkari for personal use.

“No, this particular bus was purchased from Scania India in 2016 by one of the company’s private dealers who delivered it to one of its customers (an Indian bus operator). I have no information about the current status of the bus,” said Hans-Åke Danielsson, a company spokesperson based in Sweden.

Gadkari’s office clarified that the minister was a “pioneer in introducing Scania’s Ethanol-run bus in Nagpur as a part of his drive to bring in green public transport in India”.

It said Gadkari encouraged the Nagpur Municipal Corporation to initiate a pilot project and the Nagpur civic body signed a commercial MOU with the Swedish company.

“Accordingly, Scania’s Ethanol-operated buses started plying in Nagpur. It was purely a commercial arrangement between the Nagpur civic body and the Swedish bus manufacturers and Shri Gadkari and his family had nothing to do with it,” it said.

About the deal with NMC, the company said 55 buses used for trial were returned to it. “These public transport buses were delivered to NMC and were returned to Scania India after the trial was finished. All of the in total 55 ethanol buses ordered by NMC have been returned to Scania India.”

The company spokesperson did not disclose the price of the bus. “The bus was tour bus (Scania Metrolink). We do not inform about the price our retailer organisation (i.e. the dealers) is charged for the products they sell on the market,” she said. It also denied engaging in any business deal with any connected with Gadkari’s sons.

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