ANDHRA PRADESH

Move to operate CNG-run RTC buses in limbo

P. Sujatha Varma

No delay on our part, we are ready with fuel-supplying equitment, says BGL official

CNG mother station at Vidyadharapuram remained idle since September The ball remains in APSRTC's court

VIJAYAWADA: The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC)'s ambitious plan to replace some of its diesel-run buses with the eco-friendly Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-run buses hangs fire, with the top officials in the corporation pleading ignorance about the progress of the plan.

The Bhagyanagar Gas Limited (BGL), a special purpose vehicle jointly created by the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) to supply fuel to a fleet of 100 buses to be initially acquired by the corporation, is said to be ready with the fuel-supplying equipment at the mother station at Vidyadharapuram. But the RTC officials seem to have no clue about the project.

"There is no delay from our side. As far as the BGL is concerned, it has been ready since September last," managing director A.V. Sharma says.

Larger reforms

BGL officials point out that the APSRTC had promised to deploy 100 to 130 buses in progression between October 2006 and March 2007 as per the agreement signed by APSRTC Chief Controller of Stores C. Ranga Rao and BGL Director (Commercial) A. Viswanadha Sarma in August 2006.

Transport Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana who was present then explained that Vijayawada was chosen as the place to introduce CNG-run buses because of its proximity to the Krishna-Godavari basin and easy access to the fuel. Mr. Lakshminarayana had also said that the move to run the CNG buses was part of larger reforms aimed at improving the RTC bus services, reducing costs and making profits even while being eco-friendly.

Commitments

Those grand visions notwithstanding, nothing happened since then. BGL officials say that the CNG mother station at Vidyadharapuram remained idle since September, and the company had already invested Rs. 2 crores besides making commitments to the tune of an additional Rs. 3 crores for installation of equipment such as the mother compressor and a couple of booster compressors at the fuel station.

Private vehicles

On the contrary, the BGL's plan to cater to the private vehicles has taken off well, as it has already set up four CNG outlets in Vijayawada and one outlet at Nagole on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

APSRTC Executive Director (Training and Coordination) Nageswara Rao, when contacted, said that the corporation was ready with the buses and the delay was on the part of the BGL to supply the fuel.

"We're waiting for supply of fuel. The RTC is ready," he said.

When his attention was drawn to the contention of the BGL officials that the ball was in the APSRTC's court, Mr. Rao sought an hour's time to ascertain facts.

Attempts to contact him for further verification did not yield any result, as Mr. Rao remained incommunicado.