Kerala govt nod for buying 700 CNG buses to support ailing State transport corporation

Thiruvananthapuram: The Left government in Kerala on Wednesday gave nod to purchase a fleet of 700 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses to support the "cash-strapped" Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) when it is reeling under an "acute financial crisis."

A Cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, accorded sanction for the environment-friendly buses for the KSRTC-SWIFT at an expense of Rs 455 crore by getting a loan from the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Board (KIIFB) at an interest rate of  4 per cent. 

KSRTC-SWIFT is a new entity formed by the Corporation to run long-distance bus service.

State Transport Minister Antony Raju said the new buses are being bought as part of the restructuring drive of the KSRTC to reduce losses and increase revenue.

It was for the first time after 2017 that the Corporation had purchased 116 buses recently for the KSRTC-SWIFT, he said.

The Minister expressed hope that with the launch of the 700 new buses, the public transport facility would be improved and the Corporation's revenue would register a remarkable growth.

"With the arrival of the new buses, the ratio of the buses to the staff and fuel cost will also be reduced remarkably," Raju added. 

At present, only one CNG bus is operated on an experimental basis under KSRTC in the southern State, official sources said.

The Pinarayi Vijayan government granted permission to purchase the new CNG buses when the KSRTC is "struggling hard" to disburse the monthly salary and pension to hundreds of its employees and the retired staff.

A section of employees, earlier this month, staged a day-long strike supported by the Opposition trade unions, demanding the monthly salary without delay.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet decided to constitute monitoring committees to oversee the efficient, transparent and timely implementation of various developmental schemes for the scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) people in the State. The decision was taken to set up the committees on a constituency basis under the aegis of the district SC development officer/assistant district ST development officer.

MLAs of the respective constituencies would be the chairman and the SC developmental officers would be the conveners of the panel, a CMO statement said here.

The Cabinet decided also to construct a house for the rehabilitation of surrendered Maoist Lijesh alias Ramu, a native of Karnataka, in Ernakulam district under the State's Life Mission project, the statement added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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