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Loss-making GMCBL spent ‘extra’ on shelters

June 26, 2019 05:41 AM

COURTESY HT JUNE 26

Loss-making GMCBL spent ‘extra’ on shelters
EXTRAVAGANT Activists say ₹10.9lakh spent on one bus shelter, double of usual
GURUGRAM: The loss-making Gurugram Metropolitan City Bus Limited (GMCBL), which has erected about 214 bus queue shelters across the city, spent about ₹10.9 lakh on building one such shelter. This amount is almost double the cost of a bus queue shelter built in cities, such as Delhi and Panchkula, activists and experts have claimed.

The GMCBL, which runs the city’s Gurugaman bus service, spent about ₹23 crore on building the shelters made of steel.

In response to a right to information (RTI) request filed by a city-based activist, the GMCBL revealed that it has spent ₹10.91 lakh on each of its bus queue shelters.

The Delhi government in February this year had allocated ₹50 crore for the procurement and installation of 1,397 bus queue shelters, which works out to ₹3.5 lakh per unit. A senior official in Delhi’s Public Works Department, which had got the contract of installing these shelters, said, “The ₹50 crore budget will cover cost of the structure and instalment, and it will be maintained by the Delhi Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation.”

RTI activist Aseem Takyar pointed out that most bus queue shelters in Gurugram are not yet electrified or fitted with public information system (PIS) display boards, as originally proposed by the GMCBL. “An amount of ₹23 crore for about 200 bus queue shelters, as compared to Delhi’s ₹50 crore for almost 1,400, seems extravagant, especially given the financial status of the GMCBL. A lot of public money is being spent for a rectangular stainless steel booth.”

In March, the Panchkula Municipal Corporation had allocated a budget of about ₹2 crore for the construction of 53 bush shelters, at a cost of about ₹4 lakh per unit. In February, the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation also allocated a budget of ₹3 crore for 60 new bus shelters (at ₹5 lakh per unit). In January, the city of Nellore had announced that it would install eight new air-conditioned bus shelters at a cost of ₹8.5 lakh each.

Officials from the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) maintained that the costs were entirely for material and installation purposes. Sunil Jain, transport adviser, GMDA, said, “We have about 214 bus queue shelters in the city, and are going to construct another 50 to 60 more at a cost of about ₹10.7 lakh per unit in the next year. The costs include only material and installation, and not additional functionality like the PIS display board.”

“The difference in cost between the GMCBL’S and Delhi government’s budget is likely due to differences in the make and quality of the shelter,” Jain said.

Unlike Delhi where bus shelters are being built by the PWD, in Gurugram their installation has been outsourced to a private company.

Hindustan Times spoke to at least four private companies in Delhi-ncr that manufacture and install such shelters. A marketing representative from a steel works company in Delhi’s Kalkaji area mentioned that the cost of stainless steel bus shelters varies depending on quality, size and functionality. “However, the average cost in the market would be anything between ₹3 and ₹4 lakh, including benches, waterproofing and advertisement panels,” the executive said.

A salesman for a similar company in Delhi’s Nangloi area, who went by the name Razaq, said, “A cheap bus queue shelter can cost as little as ₹1 lakh, and the cost can go up to as much as ₹5 lakh.”

Experts also agreed that the price was on the higher side for basic functionality. “At such a high cost, one can also carry out enhancement of the area around the bus queue shelter to improve access to the bus stop, which is a bigger problem sometimes,” said Sewa Ram, a professor of transport planning at the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi.

Multiple GMCBL officials declined to comment on the complete scope of their budget for bus shelters, saying they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The GMCBL, as revealed in a recent RTI response to Takyar on May 23, had earned just above ₹5 crore in ticketing revenue until May 12 this year

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