Chennai: Tamil Nadu transport minister MR Vijayabhaskar, on Monday (June 10) said that about 500 electric buses would run in three cities; Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore, in the first phase.

Claiming that the K Palaniswami government was the first to sign an agreement with C-40 Cities Clean Bus Declaration to operate battery operated buses in the transport corporations, he said the government was taking steps to run 2,000 electric buses and 12,000 BSVI-compliant buses.

Speaking to reporters in Chennai, Vijayabhaskar said, "In the first phase, steps are being taken to run around 500 battery operated buses in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore."

The government had signed an agreement with the C-40 Cities Clean Bus Declaration team in 2018 aimed at reducing carbon emissions by operating electric buses.

To a question raised by a reporter about Madras high court raising inquires on why the helmet rule was not enforced in the state, he said it has been made mandatory and added that though the helmet rule is followed in Chennai, it is less followed in rural areas.

"We have been holding inspections and have fined several lakhs of people who had violated the rule.", he said.

After inspecting school buses to find out whether they were fit to run, Vijayabhaskar said that of the 32,576 school buses, 1,009 had been found unfit.

The respective schools have been directed to operate the buses after addressing those issues, he said.

On the subject of issuing free passes to school and college students, he said in the previous academic year free passes were issued to 20.55 lakh students.

"Tenders have been floated to issue free passes to a total of 24.20 lakh students", he said.