Electric buses trial in Rohtang from Oct 15

Electric buses trial in Rohtang from Oct 15

Though CNG and battery-operated electric buses on the Manali-Rohtang road remains a big challenge for the transport authorities, the government will begin trial of electric buses between October 15 and December 31 following the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directives.

Himachal is the first state to experiment with electric buses on a hilly terrain like Rohtang. No automobile company in India manufactures battery-operated electric buses and these will have to be imported from abroad. Seven companies have submitted bids invited by government for electric buses.

It is in pursuance of the NGT directives to ply only CNG or electric buses between Manali and Rohtang that the government is exploring the possibility of making this happen at the earliest. Since the laying of the CNG pipeline between Una and Manali by Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) will take six months, the purchase of CNG buses has been put on hold till January 31, 2017.

Two companies Ashok Leyland and Gold Stone have offered to hold a trial run between Manali and Rohtang,” said Ashok Tiwari, Managing Director, Himachal Road Transport Company (HRTC). He said the trial run would be held regularly between October 15 and December 31 to assess their performance and suitability for the 50-km stretch.

The companies which have evinced interest in supplying electric buses include Ashok Leyland, Mahindra, Gold Stone, Tata, Kiti and JBM.

“If any company, besides Ashok Leyland and Gold Stone, want to give trial run of their model, it will be welcome,” said Tiwari. The last date for sending their bids for electric buses is September 30 but this is likely to be extended to October 15 as the interested companies have certain reservations.

The companies had expressed apprehensions at the pre-bid conference held earlier with regard to supply of electric buses. As such, the last date for sending in their bids is likely to be extended shortly.

The HRTC has also decided to purchase 20 CNG buses with each vehicle to cost about Rs 60 lakh. The CNG Mother Station will come up in Una and the Daughter Station at Manali and the state government has already provided land and other infrastructure required for the purpose. The Ministry of Surface Transport has already agreed to provide 75 per cent funding to Himachal for the purchase of 25 electric buses, with each one likely to cost about Rs 2 crore.


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