“Setting up of a city-level Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) for all one million-plus cities, duly backed by a legislation to facilitate co-ordinated planning and implementation of projects relating to urban transport and their integrated management.”
This is among the conditions laid down under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme to fund the purchase of buses in Chennai initiated in 2009.
As we are well aware, the Tamil Nadu rulers are not interested in putting the urban transit authorities on a firm, professional footing. They treat is as their pocket borough, not a service for the citizens. Therefore, we had some basic reportage in the leading newspapers about how a UMTA for Chennai had been announced. As they say, public memory is short and journalists’ even shorter, so the transport correspondents (not the reporter in the linked story, but others) went off into a deep slumber on this matter.
With an integrated regulator for Chennai we would have been able to bring Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) under some kind of discipline, introduce integration with rail, reviewed fares, and crucially, introduced genuine passenger-friendly travel passes. Instead, we continue to be treated shabbily by the Government of the day, for the present, the DMK.
Therefore, we have this strange situation of high-priced bus services being launched at the whim of the MTC managers, who have no established system of establishing demand and ensuring supply. It is these administrators, in the absence of a regulator, who have withdrawn bus-linkage to suburban train and MRTS stations, without drawing a murmur of protest from anyone — of course we cannot blame the travelling public, who have been let down by the media when it comes to the correct position.
We can only call upon Union Minister Jaipal Reddy to set right this shameful distortion of the JNNURM by dishonest politicians, who are treating public resources as a form of charity towards the same tax-paying public.
The Ministry of Urban Development should order an enquiry into the way the funds have been spent in Tamil Nadu, Chennai in particular by the DMK Government, since there is patent violation of the conditions. The MoUD should also make public the Detailed Project Report submitted by the MTC to avail of Central grant under JNNURM.
The relevant documents are here: