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RTC shifts gears for healthy future

RTC shifts gears for healthy future
Highlights

Going green and saving on environment by reducing pollution have been the patented buzzwords for quite some time now. It is a different matter altogether that they were used for cosmetic effect by the powers that be as there has hardly been any resultant implementation of such ‘lofty’ dreams.

Going green and saving on environment by reducing pollution have been the patented buzzwords for quite some time now. It is a different matter altogether that they were used for cosmetic effect by the powers that be as there has hardly been any resultant implementation of such ‘lofty’ dreams.

  • Corporation prefers CNG vehicles
  • Diesel buses take backseat

Pollution-free buses plying on the city roads has been a distant dream, even though a handful of attempts were made. Back in 2011, the then Andhra Pradesh government had magnanimously decided to run about 500 buses (city and inter-state) from Hyderabad as part of an APSRTC pilot project.

If CNG supply is assured, diesel buses will take a backseat

Bhagyanagar Gas Limited (of the now infamous Pipeline Natural Gas project) was categorical in their assurances that they would supply CNG uninterrupted to the Corporation. Unfortunately for the ‘Green Brigade’, the euphoria was to be short-lived as despite a much-hyped launch, the project had to be stalled, owing to an erratic CNG supply.

Suddenly, hope has been rekindled as there is some noticeable activity, more so after the Telangana State government assumed office. The RTC authorities are keen on taking the green footprint further with the proposed increase in the number of CNG-run buses in a phased manner. The authorities say that the CNG-fuelled buses are not only pollution-free but also help save on fuel cost, when compared to diesel buses.

“We have had discussions with BGL officials over the CNG supplies and the situation looks promising. At present we are re-converting 27 buses that were converted from CNG to diesel earlier. After reviewing the supply of CNG, we will increase the buses,” informed Vijaya Lakshmi, deputy chief manager, Greater Hyderabad zone.

Economically viable

On the performance front, these buses are much better than the conventional diesel vehicles on at least two counts-pollution emission levels are significantly lesser and the drivers report better comfort. The RTC purchases CNG at a cost of Rs. 36 per kg. The earning per kilometre (EPK) of CNG buses is Rs. 2 higher than the diesel ones. “We would prefer operating CNG buses as maintenance, expenditure and other factors are very much under permissible levels,” a senior official adds.

A vicious circle

However, the history of RTC’s association with BGL is anything but glorious. When the CNG buses were launched in 2011 the RTC had made elaborate plans and even got funds under the JNNURM scheme to purchase 350 buses which would be run on CNG. The phase I was doled out successfully and a fleet of 150 took off on a vibrant note.

But, as time passed by the supply from the BGL started dwindling. RTC required at least 10,000 kgs of CNG everyday but BGCL supplied only about 6,000 kgs, citing poor production and other issues. Due to the lack of supply about 30 CNG buses were converted to diesel at a cost of Rs. 15,000 per vehicle.

Currently, the RTC is operating 130 CNG buses on different routes from the Medchal, Cantonment and Hakimpet Depots. Though, there are assurances from the BGL over the increased supply of CNG, doubts still persist on how long the supply continues. Should they default again, it would be back to square one.

By:Aditya Parankusam

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