KSRTC green move grinds to halt

KSRTC green move grinds to halt

In what seems to be curtains for the much-appreciated green initiative of KSRTC, the State-run corporation is no longer able to run its buses on biofuel, thanks to the Ministry of Petroleum changing its policy on the price of bulk fuel being provided at subsidised rates to state transport undertakings (STUs).

Consequently, the KSRTC has been forced to buy fuel from private petrol stations and is unable to mix ethanol and biofuel (Pongamia oil), mechanism for which is available only at the KSRTC depots.

The green initiative, launched five years ago by KSRTC – the first STU in the country to do so – helped the corporation save Rs 3.5 crore on fuel annually. Besides, the mileage of each of its buses run partially on biofuel increased by five miles and considerably reduced emission levels.

Hurdles

KSRTC Managing Director N Manjunatha Prasad told Deccan Herald that the corporation had not been running its buses on biofuel and ethanol-mixed diesel for several months now, considering the high cost of purchasing fuel in bulk, compared with the price of diesel in the open market.

“The buses have to now get diesel filled at private bunks, which do not have the facility for mixing fuel. For its part, the State government made efforts to revert to the previous system with the chief minister writing to the Union government and even the STUs making several requests to the Union Petroleum ministry, but to no avail. Later, legal recourse was also taken, but even that did not help as even the highest court’s order was not in the favour of the corporation. We can restart the project only when the price of regular diesel matches the price of bulk diesel,” he said.

Initially, KSRTC experimented with biodiesel with a ratio of 90 per cent high-speed diesel and 10 per cent Pongamia oil. Later, along with Pongamia oil, ethanol was also mixed and blended with regular diesel to an extent of seven per cent.

Depots such as Doddaballapur, Mandya and Bangalore used Pongamia as a blending agent, while Mysore, Davangere and Ramanagara used ethanol.

KSRTC had launched the blending of diesel with ethanol and a mix of Pongamia oil in 2005, in about 80 buses belonging to the Doddaballapur depot. 

The project was extended to several other depots, including Bangalore, and about 1,000 buses were running on biofuel mixed diesel till a few months ago.

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