Plans to run public transport buses on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in the City may not materialise in the near future as the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) says the option is not economically viable.
The Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), which has already laid 73 km of gas supply pipeline across the Outer Ring Road, has been in talks with BMTC for quite sometime on running buses on CNG. But the talks have not moved forward due to the cost factor (fuel and investment) and the space for installing outlet points.
Anjum Parvez, Managing Director, BMTC, told Deccan Herald on Wednesday, “We are not using CNG in buses because the price which GAIL has quoted is higher than that of diesel. They have indicated around Rs 74 per kg while diesel costs Rs 58 per litre. The State government does not give any subsidy on bulk purchase of diesel but it is still economical. In Delhi, CNG is supplied at Rs 40-41 per kg. If we can get CNG at this price, then it is fine.”
BMTC plies more than 7,000 buses which travel over 13 lakh kilometers every day, ferrying over 50 lakh passengers. “Once a bus completes 6.60 lakh km, it is phased out. So, 700-750 buses are phased out every year. They can be replaced with CNG buses, provided the cost works out,” Parvez added.
BMTC and GAIL had also identified three depots (points) — near Sumanahalli, in Peenya and Hennur — to supply CNG to 500 buses on a pilot basis.
A GAIL official said on condition of anonymity: “We cannot reduce the costs immediately because CNG is imported. It is liquefied and shipped from West Asia. Then it is regasified and supplied. This apart, various taxes, including customs duty, import duty and sales taxes, are levied. All this increases the cost. Same is the case with other fuels.”
Transport officials say the government should supply CNG at a subsidised rate. The capital investment too is very high, so unless there is some help from the government, the idea will not work, they added.
Vaman Acharya, Chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, said, “Pollution in Bangalore is increasing mainly because of vehicles. CNG vehicles are needed. But unless all lines are completely laid and availability is ensured across the counters, KSPCB cannot make it compulsory for buses, lorries, tempos and all public vehicles. A law is also needed.”