The Bengal government is working on a package for private bus operators to switch from diesel to CNG.
This move is part of the state’s initiative to stand by the bus operators who are struggling to cope with the increasing diesel prices and diminishing returns.
“The state government will help private bus operators switch to the CNG mode by offering them incentives indirectly so that their burden is partly taken care of,” state transport minister Firhad Hakim said on Wednesday, soon after meeting a section of private bus operators in Kasba, south Kolkata.
Private bus operators have been demanding a fare revision for some time because of declining revenue amid the pandemic.
Senior officials of the transport department have been trying to negotiate with private bus owners to nudge them into rolling out more buses as commuters have been complaining of the lack of buses since last week.
On Wednesday, the state government made it clear to the bus operators that it would not revise the fares immediately.
As an alternative, the government was willing to help the bus owners switch to the CNG mode.
“Even the transport department is struggling to run its fleet of buses because of rising diesel prices. But the state government offers subsidies, which the private bus owners don’t get. So there has to be a way out that will help the private bus industry survive and hence the decision to switch to CNG,” Hakim said.
The West Bengal Transport Corporation has signed an agreement with the Bengal Gas Company Limited (BGCL), a joint venture of GAIL (India) and the Greater Calcutta Gas Supply Corporation Limited, to supply CNG to bus depots.
The first refill station will be operational at the Kasba depot by December.
Over the next five years, the BGCL will set up CNG facilities in various government bus depots and other similar facilities. Eight bus depots have been identified where CNG stations will be set up in the first phase.
They are in Salt Lake, Thakurpukur, Barrackpore, Belghoria, Howrah, Santragachi and Karunamoyee.