HRTC buys 25 zero-emission, electric buses for 48 crore, Likely to run on Manali-Rohtang route in next 3 months
SHIMLA- In next three months, Himachal Pradesh would not only become the first Indian state to run electric-buses but also the first one in the world to ply them at an altitude of 3, 978 meters (13,000 feet) on mountainous terrain of Pir Panjal ranges of the eastern Himalayas. After floating an open tender last year, the HP Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) had run trials of e-buses from Chinese and Indian companies. Finally, Himachal has sealed a deal with Hydrabad-based company, Goldstone Infratech Ltd, for delivery of 25 electric-buses costing about 48 crore in next three months. The mentioned cost does not include yearly maintenance cost. These buses will be commissioned on Manal-Rohtang-Manali section.
With this step, the government hopes to make up for the restriction on entry of petrol and diesel vehicles that have created dilemma from tourists regarding transportation facilities.
Goldstone further has its collaboration with a Chinese e-bus manufacturer BYD. The buses will be bought from the Chinese company but will be assembled in India.
The centre government will pay 75% of the cost while state government will have to contribute remaining 25%.
Goldstone Infratech’s tie-up with BYD for pure electric buses in India is a path breaking milestone, which will go a long way as a green energy initiative and will be adopted by a number of states to combat pollution issues,
said P.K. Srivastava, Head, e-bus Division, Goldstone Infratech Ltd.
The state government would take credit for this initiative, but in reality, it was forced to introduce zero-emission transportation facility after the National Green Tribunal of India took stringent step of imposing restriction on entry of fossil fuel vehicles into Rohtang in order to wake it from slumber and do something to curb rising emissions that are causing damage to glaciers. As per the NGT, the glaciers at Rohtang are reported to be receding at a rate of 19-20 meters per year, which is alarming. The state acted ignorantly, as it does in most of the situation related to environmental protection, and didn’t take notice of increasing vehicular activity with rise in number of tourists visiting Rohtang. This ignorance led to restriction on the entry of fossil fuel vehicles into the region, which is less than 1,000 vehicles per day including both diesel and petrol vehicles. However, electric or CNG vehicles are exempted.
The state had faced embarrassment for its carelessness and lack of small arrangements like dustbins for waste collection.
It was also observed that there was no system and manpower in place, not even dustbins, to collect garbage and municipal waste at Rohtang Pass and other eco-sensitive places. There was no system of transportation of garbage to dumping sites,
” had said NGT rebuking the state government.
The local cab service providers, hoteliers and people dependent on tourist activity for their living suffered most due to this ignorance. When unrest grew among people who had lost their employment, the state government put all the blame on NGT. The government had even claimed that there are no glaciers at Rohtang. The local association from Manali had reached Supreme Court last year with a plea to remove the ban, but didn’t receive any respite.
This (NGT) order was in the interest of environment and ecology, the ecology must remain beautiful. What is the use if it gets destroyed? … We cannot deny that vehicular pollution will not affect the snow,
had said the apex court to Manali Taxi Association in reply to their plea.
The state couldn’t afford CNG buses as it was a costly deal. It would have taken over 250 crores to establish mother-daughter fueling stations. So, eventually, electric-buses had to be introduced.
Nevertheless, the introduction of e-buses will make a difference and would act as a lesson for states in plains. NGT has forcefully made rectification in condition of Rohtang region, but rest of the districts aren’t doing any better. Garbage burning is prevalent throughout the state, which is another major source of emissions. But the state agencies and administration haven’t bothered to check it so far. Environmental concerns and awareness toward its protection are mostly missing from government’s agenda. Even capital city is struggling with issues like public littering that can be dealt with awareness campaigns.