State seeks 20 electric, CNG buses for Rohtang

State seeks 20 electric, CNG buses for Rohtang

In the wake of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on diesel-run vehicles and its fallout vis-à-vis tourism on the residents of Manali, the state transport department has sought 20 electric and CNG-run buses from the Centre to run these between Manali and Rohtang Pass.

As directed by the NGT, the state transport department had conducted the successful trial run of CNG buses from the tourist town of Manali to 13,500 ft high Rohtang Pass. The state has put the onus on the Centre for providing the electric and CNG buses that suit the topography of the mountainous region of Rohtang Pass.

The NGT has given November as the new deadline to ban diesel-run tourist vehicles to Rohtang Pass in the Kullu-Manali tourist circuit. The tribunal has not lifted the ban on paragliding and other tourist activities in Solang, Marhi and Rohtang Pass.

When asked about the time frame to run the electric and CNG buses to Rohtang Pass, Transport Minister GS Bali said, “We have sought 20 CNG and electric buses from the Department of Heavy Industries for the purpose. We will conduct another trail run of the electric bus to Rohtang Pass. Once we get buses we will operate five buses in the area”.

Bali, however, remained non-committal on the deadline saying it would take another four to six months. “Main problem is we need slightly bigger CNG and electric buses for the purpose and have taken up the matter with the Central agencies”, he said.

Bali also said that since the state transport department had no funds to run the CNG or electric buses, they were dependent on the Centre for this. “We are getting cooperation of the Central government on this and hope we will start the service as directed by the NGT”, Bali added.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had recently assured Manali hoteliers and other tourism stakeholders that state government would file a review petition before the NGT as ban on tourism and diesel-run vehicles would affect the livelihood of thousands of locals, including taxi and bus operators of Manali. But the NGT has given no relief so far.

Meanwhile, state transport department has also asked the Central government to include Himachal under the National Electrical Mobility Mission (NEMM) and sought 100 buses under the mission as the fund-trapped state has no money to buy these buses.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) has agreed to set up the CNG station at Manali, but nothing concrete has come up on the ground so far, revealed sources.

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