In a setback to the municipal corporation of Patiala, the Union ministry of urban development has scrapped its much-hyped, centrally-sponsored city bus service project before it even saw light of the day. 

The ministry has informed the corporation that it cannot provide funds for the project after the transport component to municipal bodies has been excluded in the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut). The initial cost of the project was Rs 20 crore, to be shared 80:20 between the Centre and state under Amrut’s predecessor Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). 

All the formalities for the project, initiated in 2013, were completed and also approved by the ministry by 2015. “We were hopeful that the project would be shifted to Amrut,” said mayor Amarinder Bajaj, “But the ministry said that the since the transport component has been excluded in the scheme (started in June 2015), it would not be possible to release funds, therefore the project be considered as scrapped.”

“We had even got permission to purchase at least 50 buses, and tenders worth Rs 12.62 crore were awarded to two companies in 2015,” the mayor said. So far, no payment was made nor the buses delivered. The central sanctioning and monitoring committee had even sanctioned funds for setting up a bus depot, a workshop and the integrated transport system (ITS) software. 

Of the 50 buses, 40 were to have 32 seats, while 10 were to be 16-seaters. 

Four acres of land was transferred to the special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed for the project. The SPV panel comprised the divisional commissioner, deputy commissioner, senior superintendent of police, MC commissioner and the managing director of state-run Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC). After the SPV report was submitted to the Centre, the green signal had come.