GAIL to help BMTC fund CNG buses

The development comes nearly four years after Gail set up stations at three BMTC depots at a cost of Rs 17 crore. DH FILE

The BMTC may finally shed its reluctance to embrace CNG, thanks to an offer from Gail Gas Limited to pay the cost difference between diesel and the “costlier” CNG buses.

The development comes nearly four years after Gail set up stations at three depots of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Company (BMTC) at a cost of Rs 17 crore. Up until now, the BMTC has steered clear of CNG buses citing they were costlier than the diesel variants.

On June 21, Gail Gas Limited chief executive officer A K Jana wrote to the chief secretary offering to fund the entire price difference for 100 CNG buses or 50% of the additional cost on 200 CNG buses procured by the BMTC.

The offer has come at a time when the city transport utility is struggling to induct new diesel buses, put on hold due to a pending case before the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Since 2016, the NGT has been urging transport corporations to switch to CNG buses to reduce air pollution.

“We are aware of the matter. The decision on procuring CNG buses will be taken by the board. We will prepare a proposal,” BMTC managing director N V Prasad said.

Gail has repeatedly expressed concern over CNG stations lying idle. “The company has suffered a loss of Rs 50 crore. The capital investment on setting up the stations, which require regular maintenance and manpower, is also costing Gail,” a Gail official said.

The official noted that diesel costs Rs 68.88/litre while CNG would cost Rs 58.55/kg. “The Union government has set 2020 as deadline for the BS IV vehicles, following which automobile industry has to shift to BS VI, which are expected to be costlier,” he said, adding that CNG buses will buy time for the BMTC till electric buses prove to be efficient and affordable.

Gail provided a letter from the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), which stated the operation cost of CNG buses was cheaper. BEST saved Rs 5 lakh per bus every year, it said.

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