New Delhi: To double the capacity of state transport buses, the forthcoming Budget may contain a proposal for an annual grant of Rs 2,500 crore for state road transport corporations to increase their fleet.
The proposal has been mooted by Road Transport and Highways Ministry to Ministry of Finance against the backdrop of less number of state transport buses and 'hue and cry' over old polluting vehicles which have to be phased out.
"The Road Transport and Highways Ministry in pre-Budget consultations with the Finance Ministry has placed a proposal for annual allotment of about Rs 2,500 crore from the Centre to increase the fleet by state transport corporations," an official source told PTI.
The Ministry has suggested that this can be taken up on a pari passu basis with an equal amount allocation from the respective states.
The move holds significance in the wake of scarcity of public transport buses. Only 5 per cent of the country's population use state transport buses.
The proposal also assumes significance in the wake of government mulling conversion of about 1.5 lakh diesel buses run by state transport corporations into electric buses. "We have 1.5 lakh buses of state road transport corporations. It is our effort to convert 1.5 lakh diesel buses into electric battery-operated buses which will reduce Rs 8 lakh crore bill on import of crude and petroleum and would also help in making India pollution free," Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had recently said.
To make India pollution free, the country needs to encourage electric vehicles and vehicles should be run on environment-friendly fuel like bio-diesel and ethanol, the Minister had said.
Besides grant for state transport buses, in another proposal, the Ministry has sought Rs 800 crore Budget allocation for the proposed Smart Mobility Through Intelligent and Legal Enforcement (SMILE) scheme.
"The Ministry has sought Rs 800 crore allocation for SMILE project," the official said.
Under the proposal, the Centre is likely to include the commissionerates of police under its proposed SMILE scheme, which will help meet the infrastructural requirement of the states traffic police.
According to information, the Ministry has already asked some states' police to submit a proposal in this regard. The Ministry has proposed to include 10 cities of India under the SMILE project in first phase.