BENGALURU: Already choking with rising air pollution, Bengaluru has missed its date to switch its mass transport system to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
Though four CNG stations are ready in the city, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s (BMTC) failure to honour its commitment has now almost turned these stations redundant.
The CNG stations at Hennur BMTC depot and Beggars’ Rehabilitation Centre premises are ready to start functioning by this month-end, while another two stations at Sumanahalli and Peenya BMTC depots will start by mid-May.
Each CNG station has cost about Rs 6 to 8 crore, said Partha Jana, General Manager of Bengaluru branch of Gas Authority of India (GAIL) Gas Ltd.
The stations were set up mainly on the assurance from BMTC to shift its fleet to CNG in phases. The process was to start with purchase of about 200 CNG buses. However, GAIL Gas Ltd is now left high and dry with BMTC changing its decision by citing the cost factor.
BMTC Managing Director Ekroop Caur told Express that CNG buses cost Rs 4 to Rs 5 lakh more than diesel-run buses. Purchasing CNG buses will add to the cost factor and the transport utility had requested the government to bear the additional cost as it is not willing to pass on the additional cost burden to commuters.
The state government has set up a committee, headed by Chief Secretary Aravind Jadhav, to study the matter and suggest an appropriate decision. “We will wait for the response from the government,” Caur said.
Faced with no takers for the CNG stations, GAIL Gas Ltd has decided to initiate talks with taxi aggregators like Meru and Uber to convince them to shift to CNG. “We are also negotiating with CNG kit companies to bring down the cost of switching over to CNG for private vehicle owners,” Jana said.
According to GAIL officials, CNG conversion for a petrol car cost about Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000. As for the running cost, it is at least 40 per cent lesser than petrol.