2 years on, only 13.5% Aapli buses converted into CNG
Nagpur: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s ambitious green project — converting its diesel buses into CNG-run vehicles — is progressing at a snail’s pace as it has been able to convert only 13.5% of Aapli buses to operate them on compressed natural gas in the last two years. The civic body had selected Rawmatt Industries Private Limited to convert 237 standard diesel-run buses into CNG and set June 30, 2021 as the deadline. “Of the 400-odd buses in its fleet, the NMC has so far converted 54 buses, deployed on different routes, to run them using CNG,” said a senior official from the transport department.
“The firm has missed the deadline due to various reasons including non-availability of spare parts and Covid-induced lockdown,” said transport committee member and former chairman Jitendra Kukde. He also admitted lack of funds as one of the reasons for the delay. “Now, a budgetary provision of Rs6 crore has been made for this,” he added. In March 2019, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari had rolled out NMC’s first CNG bus on city roads. Gadkari had suggested the civic body to convert all its diesel-run vehicles into CNG. The then mayor Nanda Jichkar too had announced that even her official car will be converted into CNG-run vehicle.
The senior official further said that additional 30 standard buses are in the pipeline for conversion and awaiting nod from the regional transport office in the city. Apart from 54 CNG buses, the NMC is currently operating six electric midi buses also, he said. The civic body has also placed an order for 40 electric midi buses having seating capacity of 32 passengers each. For this, the NMC had received funds from the central government under Phase-II of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric vehicles (FAME). It had also received a subsidy (Rs14 crore) for procuring the e-buses
Each bus costs around Rs1.49 crore and the manufacturer Olectra-BYD had agreed to run the e-buses by not charging the capital cost. In exchange, the NMC will pay the firm Rs66.30 per km as operation cost, which will also include capital cost of the 40 e-buses. The official explained that the operational cost of each electric bus is around Rs42.30 per km and the capital cost share will be Rs22 per km. Olectra-BYD will deliver the first lot 12 buses in September this year, he added. Besides this, the Nagpur Smart and Sustainable City Development Corporation Limited (NSSCDCL) will be providing 15 electric buses to the NMC free of cost. It is in tendering stage and will join the Aapli Bus fleet before March next year, said the official. Rs7 crore Viability Gap Funding! Currently, the NMC is paying Rs62 per km for standard buses, Rs55 for midi and Rs45 for mini. Before the Covid lockdown, the civic body used to operate around 370 Aapli buses, including six e-buses, and spent around Rs13 crore per month. However, the buses generated around Rs6 crore from fare, while the viability gap funding was around Rs7 crore. Addition of electric buses will increase the NMC’s expenditure on operating the Aapli Bus service by almost Rs85 lakh per mont