Bids for CNG buses to Rohtang soon

Bids for CNG buses to Rohtang soon

The state government will be inviting tenders from private players for plying of CNG buses on the ecologically fragile 51-km stretch between Manali and Rohtang even as the question of availability of regular supply of CNG remains a big challenge.

It is in compliance with the directives of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to ply only CNG vehicles on this stretch that the state government has decided to invite tenders. Besides waiting for the response from the private players, the government will also purchase a few buses to run it on this stretch.

“We are shortly floating tenders to invite private players to ply CNG run buses on the Manali-Rohtang stretch as per the NGT orders,” said Ajay Mittal, Additional Chief Secretary (Transport). He said the government will also be purchasing a few CNG engine fitted buses for providing services to tourists visiting the area.

It is following the successful trial run of a mini 27 seater CNG bus between Manali and Rohtang on July 21 and 23 last month that it has been decided to invite tenders for starting CNG bus service. A complete ban has been imposed on plying of diesel and petrol tourist vehicles between Manali-Rohtang since August 17 by the NGT.

However with the NGT restricting the number of petrol and diesel vehicles that will ply on this route to 1,000 per day, it remains to be seen whether the private players would be keen to enter into this area. Moreover, the tourist season on this route would span for only about three months as this stretch is snow bound for almost six months in a year. Officials of the Transport Department say that the cost of CNG will roughly work out to be Rs 90 per litre and each CNG engine fitted bus will cost about Rs 1 crore.

“With such high investment in running this service, the returns could be far less, so we are very uncertain about the interest that the private players will exhibit,” said an officer.

The Himachal government got a CNG-operated mini bus from the Delhi Transport Corporation to undertake the trial run to test the suitabilityof the CNG buses in hilly terrain. The Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) has agreed to provide CNG so that the trial run can be carried on for a week or fortnight to test its effectiveness in mountainous terrain. The representatives of the Green Growth Institute, an international agency with its headquarters in Korea, have also offered to ply battery operated small buses between Manali and Rohtang. The representatives of the institute made the offer to run electric buses here last month. The issue of running of battery operated buses will be taken up with the Union Ministry of Heavy Industries.


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