Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation will apply anti-microbial coating from next month to the 10,000 buses it has deployed currently at a cost of Rs 9,500 per vehicle, a senior official said on Friday.
It is a process in which chemical agents are sprayed on surfaces to prevent the growth of microbes like viruses, bacteria and fungus, with many offices and airlines deploying the technique routinely, he said.
"After the coronavirus outbreak, people are reluctant to use public transport. This anti-microbial coating will help remove this fear from the minds of our passengers," MSRTC vice-chairperson Shekhar Channe told PTI.
The state undertaking's officials said chemical agents would be sprayed on the seats, hand rest, windows, guard rails, driver's cabin, flooring, rubber glazing, doors and luggage compartments.
The tender for the work was floated in May and two firms have been finalised to start the process from next week and finish it in a month's time, they added.
The firms, which have said the durability of the coating is two months and six months respectively, will have to submit certificates from Haffkine Institute to back their claims.
While one firm will have to apply the coat two times a year, the other will have to do it six times annually and a third party will check the efficacy by taking surface swabs to tabulate viral load, MSRTC officials said.
MSRTC, with a fleet of 18,000 buses, used to ferry 65 lakh people every day before the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed operations in March last year, with the current ridership being in the range of 17-18 lakh.
Maharashtra at present has a COVID-19 caseload of over 62.90 lakh cases, including 1.32 lakh deaths.
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