Get e-buses in 14 days or lose Rs 80 cr: Centre to BMTC

Get e-buses in 14 days or lose Rs 80 cr: Centre to BMTC

Induction of 80 e-buses has been delayed due to Transport Minister D C Thammanna's view that the vehicles be bought instead of leased as per a tender finalised during the previous Congress regime. (DH File Photo)

The BMTC will lose Rs 80 crore subsidy for electric buses from the Centre if the corporation doesn’t procure the vehicles by February 28, the Centre said on Thursday.

Induction of 80 e-buses was delayed due to Transport Minister D C Thammanna’s view that the vehicles be bought than leased, as per the tender finalised during the previous Congress government.

Under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles scheme (FAME), BMTC was promised Rs 1 crore subsidy per e-bus or 60% of its cost.

Ajay Kumar Gaur, Under Secretary, Union Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, wrote to the state government on Thursday to “issue supply order to the bidder positively by February 28, 2019, failing which, the subsidy would be withdrawn and the BMTC will have to refund” the incentives amount already advanced to them.

“Despite the release of 20% of eligible incentives (i.e, Rs 14.95 crore) and 50% of eligible grant for charging infrastructure (Rs 3.74 crore), it is learnt that there has been no progress for procurement/operation of e-buses and for establishment of charging infrastructure by BMTC till date,” the letter states.

According to the officials of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) leasing an e-bus would cost less at Rs 60.86 per km compared to purchasing them at Rs 84.71 per km. The corporation’s non-familiarity with e-bus technology will be a major challenge, they say.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy had to intervene to assuage the BMTC officials after the transport minister Thammanna made allegations of bribery in the proposal to lease the buses. Following the Chief Minister’s directions, a committee led by the chief secretary looked into the matter in October and declared that the lease tender were in the best interests of the BMTC.

However, the corporation’s board of directors headed by Thammanna, had again referred the matter to experts from the Indian Institute of Science to look into the viability of hiring and leasing the buses.

When asked about the recommendations of the IISc report submitted last week, BMTC Managing Director, N V Prasad, said the contents of the report were subject to discussion and approval of the board.

BMTC Chairman, N A Harris, said he was yet to see the report. “For me, it is a new subject. We will decide on it after a thorough discussion,” he said.

Sources in the BMTC said the minister’s insistence on buying the buses will cost Rs 80 crore for the organisation while the corporation’s dream of switching to electric vehicles will suffer a huge setback.