BENGALURU: With the National Green Tribunal (NGT) halting BMTC’s plan to purchase 1,000 diesel buses, the corporation has decided to approach the Supreme Court against the stay. The tribunal had, in its February 27 order, made it clear that it will allow procurement of buses that run on clean energy such as electricity or natural gas. The corporation wants to buy Bharat Stage IV diesel buses.
BMTC managing director NV Prasad said the corporation will strengthen the legal team and prepare a strong case before approaching the apex court. “Several hundreds of new vehicles are being registered in Bengaluru every day. Even private operators are allowed to purchase diesel buses. We fail to understand why the NGT is restricting us,” he said.
The NGT’s order banned BS-II and BS-III buses. It told the transport utility to follow the orders in the Vardhaman Kaushik vs Union of India, 2014, case on purchase of BS-IV buses. In the case, the tribunal had directed several transport corporations, including the one in New Delhi, not to purchase diesel buses.
That order, however, is affecting BMTC’s plan to strengthen its fleet. BMTC chairman NA Haris said there is an urgent need to increase the fleet. “Bengaluru needs at least 10,000 buses. We are way behind. The proposal to purchase 1,000 buses is old. The state cabinet recently approved purchase of a few more buses,” he said.
A BMTC official said the corporation has no plans to induct CNG buses as their operational costs are high. The utility plans to introduce 80 electric buses, but the plan could take longer to implement as the tender is being drawn up. “There were a lot of loopholes in the old tender. The idea of investing Rs 80 crore for purchasing electric buses on lease will hurt the corporation in the long run,” Haris said.
In the now-scrapped tender, Hyderabad-based Olectra Greentech (formerly known as Goldstone Infratech) had won the contract for 80 electric buses (60 air-conditioned and 20 non A/C). As per the deal, the manufacturer would have got Rs 1 crore per A/C bus and Rs 73 lakh per non A/C bus as subsidy from the Centre. The actual manufacturing cost, however, is anywhere between Rs 1 crore and Rs 3 crore.
Other than providing buses on lease and maintaining them, the manufacturer had to bear the cost of the bus driver, too. BMTC had offered to pay Rs 60.86 per km on A/C buses and Rs 40 per km on non A/C buses to the manufacturer, which also includes the cost of conductor and power charges. The utility had promised to run each bus for 200 km every day.
It’s managing director said that the corporation would write to the Centre, seeking subsidy for the project once again. “Not many corporation could avail of subsidy under Phase I of FAME scheme. We are planning to buy electric buses instead of leasing them,” Prasad said.
Urban mobility experts want the BMTC to prepare a road map for converting its fleet into electric buses. “The NGT can pass orders but the question is whether the BMTC has the financial strength and operational capacity to follow those orders such as moving to CNG,” a city-based transport expert said, requesting anonymity. No operator, he said, would want to experiment with three different types of technology.
Urban mobility experts want the BMTC to prepare a road map for converting its fleet into electric buses.
Bengaluru needs at least 10,000 buses. We are way behind. The proposal to purchase 1,000 buses is old. The state cabinet recently approved purchase of a few more.