9 months later, Navi Mumbai's new buses yet to arrive
NMMT officials ordered 50 vehicles last September to supplement their ramshackle old fleet; wanted to obtain them in time for monsoon
Commuters in Navi Mumbai can safely expect public buses in Navi Mumbai to unexpectedly break down this monsoon, after the Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) failed to obtain the diesel buses it had ordered over eight months ago. With no other choice, NMMT is going to continue services with its existing CNG buses in its fleet, which break down regularly during heavy rains.
After several CNG buses broke down during last year’s monsoon, NMMT had decided to purchase 50 diesel-run buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme in September.
Surprisingly, though almost a year has passed and the monsoon has set in once again, not a single diesel bus has been delivered to the NMMT. When asked about when the diesel buses were expected to arrive, NMMT officials expressed ignorance and blamed the lengthy process of procurement under the JNNURM scheme. NMMT paid 50 per cent of the cost of the buses, JNNURM paid 35 per cent and the state government bore the remaining 15 per cent.
According to sources, a lengthy bureaucratic process on the part of the JNNURM, coupled with lax NMMT officials has caused the delay.
“We had started the process of procuring the diesel buses under the JNNURM scheme early in September, as we wanted these buses to be available before this year’s monsoon. However, the lengthy process of the scheme and failure of NMMT administration in expediting the process has resulted in the delay. We do not know when these buses will come,” said an NMMT official.
Commuters however termed the delay as expected and blamed it on political interference. Arun Bhise of the Citizen Unity Forum said, “The news of the delay has not surprised us as it has been common practice of NMMT. I do not know why NMMT fails to function efficiently despite huge scope and availability of funds. I think political interference in decision-making is responsible for the delay in procuring the diesel buses.”
G C Mangle, general manager of NMMT said the buses would be available soon. “We are trying to procure the diesel buses as early as possible, but cannot say when they will be available. We are mulling over purchase of diesel buses with latest Euro IV standards, which has caused the delay.”