1k e-buses to clean city’s air

| | New Delhi

To combat the perennial problem of air pollution in the national Capital, Delhi Government on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for the hiring of a consultant to run 1,000 electric buses. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had  announced this project  in its annual Budget 2018-19 and allocated  Rs 2500 crore for its implementation. Delhi Integrated Multi-modal Transit System (DIMTS) has been asked to submit its report within three months.

The Cabinet also directed the Transport Department to explore the possibility of hydrogen buses as suggested by the  Supreme Court.  

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the development on Twitter after the decision was cleared in the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday. "The Cabinet approves hiring of consultant to run 1,000 electric buses in Delhi. A big step in modernising Delhi's transport sector and reducing pollution," Kejriwal tweeted.

It may be noted that Delhi was the first Capital globally to transition 100 per cent CNG during the regime of then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

"This had a big impact on pollution, particularly particulate matter. However, CNG vehicles emit a lot of NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) and Volatile Organic Compounds, which causes severe health issues and also contributes to the smog. Therefore, in the long-term, it is essential that Delhi transitions to zero-emission fuel", an official release issued by the Chief Minister's Office stated.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also said these buses will not only help in improving the public transportation but also in reducing the pollution level.

"DIMTS Ltd has been hired as the consultant," Sisodia said adding,  "A detailed study of the project will come in three months." These buses will be low-floor equipped with AC and will ply on Delhi roads within nine months.  However, as of now, India has only 30 e - buses," the deputy CM said. 

After Cabinet approval, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot termed it as a "milestone in Delhi's fight to curb air pollution".

"1,000 e-buses will establish Delhi as a pioneer in clean public transport in India and globally. Delhi will have the highest number of electric buses (compared to) any city outside China," the Minister said.

Earlier this month, the Delhi government had informed the Supreme Court that each vehicle would cost around Rs 2.5 crore.

The Delhi Assembly had passed the 2018-19 "green" budget with a focus on fighting pollution by commissioning 1,000 e-buses and providing subsidies for switching to non-polluting fuel. As per a 1998 order of the Supreme Court, Delhi should have a fleet of 10,000 buses for public transport but currently it has only 5,815 buses.

According to the Delhi Government official the department will construct bus depots at six locations for these 1000 electric buses - East Vinod Nagar, Bawana Sector 5, Burari, Rohini Sector 37, Revla Khanpur and Narela. Electric power for charging of electric buses and the housing of requisite numbers of charging units shall be the responsibility of the Concessionaire(s), who will arrange the infrastructure at their own cost, in consultation with DISCOMs.

Interestingly, pure electric buses are operating in over 200 cities in 48 countries worldwide but the major share (98 percent) of these vehicles is in China.

The production of the electric buses had been slow traditionally but it has picked up substantially in the last three years with China itself procuring 12,760 e-buses in 2014, 94,260 e-buses in 2015 and 115,700 e-buses in 2016.

The top five countries, other than China, having pure electric buses are United Kingdom (191), German (176), Netherlands(296), Lithuania(192) and Austria(164).

Explaining world scenario about green buses, the Government spokesperson said  in October, 2017, the Mayors of 12 leading cities (London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, Auckland and Cape Town) pledged to procure only zero emission buses from 2025 and ensure that major areas of their city are zero emission by 2030.

While in India, only 30 electric buses are running in the entire country — 25 of these are owned and run by Himachal Pradesh (HRTC). The remaining five are with BEST, Mumbai. It has been further gathered that 10 cities of India have recently invited tenders for 440 numbers of electric buses.



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