HC questions BMTC on delay in shifting to CNG mode

HC questions BMTC on delay in shifting to CNG mode

Gives nod to buy only 10 BS4 buses against its plea for 223

HC questions BMTC on delay in shifting to CNG mode

The High Court on Wednesday questioned the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) why it was delaying the launching of CNG (compressed natural gas) buses in the city though the work of laying the pipeline to supply the gas has been completed three years ago.

While granting permission to the BMTC to procure only 10 BS4 buses (Bharath Stage 4), a division bench comprising Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice Ravi Malimath said that these buses should be used only on a trial basis.  The BMTC had sought permission from the court to purchase 223 buses after a division bench had earlier ordered that the BMTC should take the court into confidence before finalising the purchase of any new diesel engine buses.

 A PIL has been filed in the High Court seeking directions to convert all buses run by KSRTC and BMTC into CNG and LPG ( liquified petroleum gas) within a time frame fixed by the court. The petitioner, advocate Vinay Shivanand Naik has contended that due to the increasing air pollution, 36% of Bengaluru’s children are already experiencing significant health problems and 84% have affected lung capacity. The petition says that the young, elderly and poor are the most affected by the spiraling levels of air pollution in the city. The PIL has sought directions to keep the petition pending and monitor the implementation of the court orders periodically.

‘CNG, a huge burden’

The BMTC submitted that there will be a financial burden of Rs 11,63.82 crore on it to convert the entire fleet into CNG in a phased manner. Conversion of such a huge fleet of high-speed diesel buses into CNG cannot be absorbed by the BMTC alone. The corporation in its statement of objection said that it has sought capital subsidy of Rs 1,163 towards procurement of CNG buses and the Union government had sanctioned 271 CNG buses. These buses have been sanctioned under the JnNURM scheme and the commercial offer received in the tender was Rs 84.37 lakh per bus. But BS-4 ones costs only Rs 28.65 lakh per bus. 

The BMTC said that if CNG buses are procured, there will be huge financial repercussion. As these buses are non-AC, they will have to be operated in ordinary passenger fare category and thus recovery of the capital cost and the operational cost with such huge initial investment will be difficult for the BMTC.

Further, the BMTC has said that CNG is not the only alternative fuel to bring down emission and reduce pollution. There are alternatives such as electric mobility, bio diesel etc. Even to convert the existing buses into CNG in a phased manner will take around 10 years.