Centre’s assistance to be sought to procure 200 CNG buses

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is gearing up to exploit the advantage of the availability of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) with the Dhabol-Bangalore natural gas pipeline commissioned by Gas Authority of India Ltd., (GAIL) reaching Bangalore.

One of its depots at HSR Layout is being readied to dispense gas to CNG buses and the corporation is in the process of seeking assistance from the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to procure 200 CNG buses.

The change in fuel use of public transport would drastically reduce air pollution level. The advantage would be manifold if all vehicles, except two-wheelers, are compelled to use CNG, which is the larger plan behind bringing natural gas to Bangalore.

DPR ready

BMTC Managing Director Anjum Parwez told The Hindu that the existing diesel buses would not be phased out, but would be deployed on the periphery of the city. The corporation would induct only CNG buses as and when the gas is made available fully. The detailed project report (DPR) is almost ready and would be submitted to the Centre soon.

He said procurement and commencement of CNG bus operations depends upon the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) selecting the retail gas supplier for Bangalore.

Since the main supply pipeline is already complete and the GAIL has commenced supply to bulk consumers, selection of retail supplier may not take much time, Mr. Parwez said. At the most, BMTC should be able to get the supply within a year, he hoped. He said the cost of operation should come down if CNG is supplied at rates on a par with those in Mumbai or Delhi, even though the cost of a CNG semi-low-floor bus is about Rs. 50 lakh, up by Rs. 20 lakh from a semi-low floor diesel bus.

Infrastructure

The corporation’s Chief Mechanical Engineer (Production and Transport Planning) C.G. Anand said GAIL has almost completed installation of a CNG dispensing outlet at the HSR Layout depot.

“We are awaiting GAIL’s word for supply of CNG and the rate at which it would be done,” he said.

Mr. Anand noted that CNG would be beneficial only if it is supplied at competitive rates on a par with those prevailing in Pune or Mumbai (about Rs. 39 a kg). Though the cost of operation would not be much due to lower price of fuel, the cost of maintenance and the initial investment [on buses] would be high, he noted.

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