Friday, August 8, 2008

Today, Amdavadis will know who drives BRTS

8 Aug 2008, 0155 hrs IST, Paul John,TNN

AHMEDABAD: Come Friday and Amdavadis will know who would drive them in the swanky BRTS buses. Board of directors of the Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL) would provinsionally declare the lowest bidder that has qualified both the technical and the financial rounds of scrutiny.

Out of the five, which include Chartered Logistics, Leher Associates, Shri Maruti Travels, Adani-promoted GEPC and Pankaj Gandhi Associates, only four qualified for the financial round of scrutiny.

At the preliminary bidding process, Pankaj Gandhi Associates appeared to be the lowest bidder. Officials, however, refused to divulge any information on the the final operator.

"The AJL board would meet the four operators on Friday to decide on the final party. The other operators too would get a chance," says AJL chairman IP Gautam.

AJL sources say that out of the first 50 buses — including 25 AC and 25 non-AC buses. Operators had quoted rates as low as Rs 34 per kilometre for non-AC buses while the rates hovered between Rs 38-39 per kilometre for AC buses. This is the cost that AJL would pay the operator per kilometre for each of the buses.

AJL would get Euro-3 diesel buses for its BRTS initially and the rest of the buses, taht would be commisioned for phase 2 and phase 3, would be CNG, say AJL sources. The bus floor height would be 860 mm, officials add.

"AJL can afford to pay the operator at the rate of Rs 23 per kilometre, while the rest of the Rs 10, which amounts to 30 per cent subsidy, can come from the state governemnt or AMC. This is viable," says a senior AJL board member.

AJL, in its pre-bid meeting on May 31 this year, had seen 21 interested bidders for operations and maintenance of BRTS buses. The reason for the sudden jump in number of operators, an AMC official said, is the opening up the options of both CNG and diesel buses. However, about 16 operators left the race after AJL announced a higher penalty ammount for operators, if the requsite qulaity standards are not met.

However, a contentious issue is high bus costs. The Bhure Lal Committee had noted that there was monopolistic market.

The price difference between diesel buses and CNG bus as well as the price quoted for a CNG bus in Delhi and in Ahmedabad, were put under the scanner by EPCA.

AJL officials on the tendering of the buses and its comparison with the prices at which Delhi bought the buses, it revealed that while in Delhi CNG buses have been procured at Rs 41 lakh, the same manufacturer has quoted Rs 61 lakh for a CNG bus in Ahmedabad.

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