Scheme To Augment Public Transport, Increase Share Of Buses Yet To Take Off


Its been over two years since the Centre made an announcement to launch a Rs 18,000 crore scheme for deploying 20,000 buses for cities to augment public transport, but the government is yet to approve the scheme and launch it.

Responding to concerns raised by a parliamentary committee on the inordinate delay in rolling out the scheme, the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has said it recently sent the proposal for approval from the Cabinet, after getting the go ahead from the Finance Ministry last December.

While presenting the Budget on 1 February 2021, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the government would work towards raising the share of public transport in urban areas through expansion of metro rail network and augmentation of city bus service.

Announcing this, she had said, “The scheme will facilitate deployment of innovative PPP models to enable private sector players to finance, acquire, operate and maintain over 20,000 buses. The scheme will boost the automobile sector, provide fillip to economic growth, create employment opportunities for our youth and enhance ease of mobility for urban residents.”

The share of buses in India in the total vehicle fleet has been less than 1 per cent for years despite successive governments having made announcements to increase the number of buses for public transport, to discourage people from owning private vehicles.

Flagging the non-implementation of the budget announcement, the parliamentary standing committee of the housing and urban affairs ministry had sought its status details.

The panel in its report, which was submitted to both houses of Parliament on Monday (20 March), has recorded that the Ministry informed the committee that the “draft Cabinet note” of the proposed scheme was sent to the Finance Ministry on 17 May, 2022 for its approval and it has got the nod.

Regarding the latest status of the scheme, the Ministry has informed that the “approval of the Finance Minister on the draft Cabinet note has been obtained on 5 December 2022 and has been submitted for the consideration and approval of the Cabinet”.

The standing committee observed, “The committee is surprised to note that though this is the third financial year since the announcement of this scheme, yet it is at approval stage and even in budgetary allocation for the financial year 2023-24, no provision has been made for this scheme.

The Committee, therefore, recommends that on receiving the Cabinet approval for the scheme, the necessary financial allocation may be sought from the Finance Ministry and may be briefed about the modalities finalized for the implementation of the scheme at the earliest,” it added.