HRTC Electric Bus

Manali-Rohtang electric bus trial: Tyre puncture spoils first day of 10-day trial run

SHIMLA- Rebuked by the National Green Tribunal for rising air pollution in Rohtang Pass region and compelled by its directions, Himachal Pradesh Government has ultimately kicked off 10-day trial of a 24-seater electric bus provided by the Gold Stone Company. The zero-emission bus was supposed to cover 51 kilometers Manali-Rohtang Pass route at an altitude of 13,050ft high. Himachal will become the first hilly state in India to introduce electric buses if the trial goes well.

Though, transport Minister GS Bali had performed special ‘pooja’ for success of the trial, but the bus couldn’t cover more than 15 kilometers upto Kothi due to tyre puncture. Later, tyre rolled over a sharp-edged tin sheet and was further damaged.There was no spare tyre in the bus, so the bus had to be returned from Kothi. Now, the bus will have to wait till a new tyre arrives from Delhi.

It is still to be observed how well this electric bus performs on a hilly terrain in a comparatively cold region. The bus runs on a 162 kilowatt capacity electric motor. It requires 2 hours time to juice up its battery, capacity of which is not revealed yet. In a single charge it can cover a distance of 200 kilometers. However, in cold region and hilly slopes, average range of EV bus is likely to drop.

Two electric charging stations are installed – one in Manali and Marhi. If the trial, which is being observed by technicians and members from various institutes including IIT, is successfully completed, Himachal Pradesh Road Corporation will buy 25 electric buses to be deployed on various routes in Himachal. State is also exploring possibility to introduce these zero-emission buses in other parts of Himachal as well. These buses will perform better in plain regions. However, Govt. is still to construct infrastructure (charging stations) to facilitate smooth operation of EV buses.

Considering condition of HRTC and private buses that is causing access vehicular emissions, Himachal is in dire need of replacing diesel buses with zero-emission electric buses or with CNG buses. NGT had ordered state government to run CNG and electric vehicles to ecologically fragile mountain pass to reduce pollution in the area.

But, running CNG buses isn’t feasible for government as it would involve massive expenditure on transportation of CNG fuel from Delhi because Himachal does not have any CNG station.

Towns of Himachal are badly hit due to attitude of State Pollution Control Board toward rapidly rising vehicular emissions, which is way higher than defined, safe standard level.

Himachal Watcher has been regularly submitting complaints to the traffic police department, pollution control board, Transport Minister GS Bali, and even to the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. However, so far both government and public had opted to ignore and tolerate intoxication of breathable air. Public lacks awareness regarding ill health effects of vehicular emission and its long-term change on climate of the region.

Not only electric buses, but the state government needs to plan introduction of electric vehicles, considering subsidizing purchase of EVs, and establishment of infrastructure required to make it feasible. Also, India needs to upgrade to Bharat Stage V and VI emission standards.

Meanwhile, electric buses became a cause of worry for Him-Aanchal Taxi Operators Union members, who saw them as loss to their business.

With PTI Inputs

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