City buses in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad are set to serve as brand managers for the state government.
Jharkhand State Tourism Corporation (JTDC) has decided to use the buses for advertising the works and achievements of various government departments in a bid to spread public awareness.
According to JTDC managing director Sunil Kumar, they received proposals from the departments for spreading the word about government schemes like Janani Sishu Surakhsha Yojna, Mukyamantri Ladli Lakshmi Yojna, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme etc. Posters, banners and billboards would be fixed on the buses for which permission has been sought from the urban development department.
“As the urban development department is the owner of the fleet, permission has to be taken from it. I am not very sure, but I think some buses have already started carrying the advertisements of the health department,” Kumar told The Telegraph over phone.
Of 70 buses sanctioned for Ranchi, 69 are plying at present. Unidentified men had set one bus on fire last year.
Officials said that on an average, 55-60 buses run on the capital roads daily. While Jamshedpur has 50 buses, 70 ply in Dhanbad.
Advertisement on wheels has immense scope for revenue generation in today’s times. It could also enable the city bus service tide over its financial worries, but Kumar pointed out that the initiative was not aimed at generating revenue.
“The buses will only carry advertisements on government schemes so that more and more people get to know about them. People from the lower middle class and beyond generally form the bulk of passengers. Many of them are illiterate. Therefore, the campaigns on wheels will enable the government easily reach out to them,” said an official of JTDC, adding that they would start allotting the buses once the various departments sent their proposals.
On why revenue generation wasn’t a prime focus, he said that due to myriad administrative problems, the buses had been off roads several times since being launched over two years ago.
“People who will cough up money for the ads will not tolerate any such hiccup. Hence, as an experiment, we are just going with government ads. If the administration allows in the future, we can advertise for private companies for revenue,” he said.
As to where the advertisements will be pasted, the official said that the exterior of the buses would carry well-made poster boards while smaller ads would be fixed inside.
“Our aim will be to ensure that the bus doesn’t look ugly and ads don’t create security problems. For example, if billboards are fixed on the rear glass portion of the buses, drivers would face difficulty as it would hinder the view from behind. We have to keep these issues in mind,” said the official.