Former Minister says it is financially unviable

The proposal to use compressed natural gas (CNG) for Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses in the wake of hefty diesel cost will be of little use in salvaging the crisis-ridden corporation, former Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas, MLA, has said.

According to Mr. Thomas, salvaging the State-owned public transport system should be given utmost priority and conversion to CNG can seldom address the alarming problem.

Talking to The Hindu, the former Minister said the previous government had explored the possibility of reducing the operation cost of the KSRTC by opting for CNG in 2006. However, the proposal was dropped after finding it financially unviable. A study showed that it required not less than Rs.4 lakh for conversion of each bus to run on CNG. The proposed Rs.100-crore Central assistance would be grossly inadequate to meet the hefty cost for converting nearly 60,00 buses.

The MLA said providing CNG across the State would be a costly and time-consuming affair. Moreover, the growing gas price would ultimately make CNG on a par with diesel or even costlier. CNG now costs Rs.42 a kg in Delhi and Rs.60 in Rajasthan.

Mr. Thomas said it was high time the government opted for some practical solutions.

The government should purchase diesel from the fuel outlets of the Civil Supplies Corporation and various private outlets across the State, instead of purchasing it in bulk from oil companies. The Civil Supplies Corporation should explore the possibility of opening more fuel outlets in different parts of the State, he said.

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