The West Bengal government will run a large number of buses on CNG, an environment-friendly fuel, transport minister Firhad Hakim said on Wednesday while inaugurating a CNG station at the Kasba bus depot in south Kolkata.
“Apart from Kolkata proper, CNG stations will be set up in the adjoining districts in phases as part of the transport department’s efforts to reduce pollution caused by vehicles and operational costs,” Hakim said.
The CNG station in Kasba is the first to be set up in a government bus depot. In March, the city got two CNG stations — one in New Town and the other in Garia — where anyone can refuel vehicles powered by the green fuel.
Indian Oil Corporation set up the station in New Town and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited built the one in Garia.
As with the two stations set up in March, the one in Kasba will receive CNG from Bengal Gas Company Limited (BGCL), a joint venture between the Bengal government's Greater Calcutta Gas Supply Corporation Limited and GAIL, a central government undertaking.
“We will set up more gas stations soon, where even private bus operators can fill their vehicles,” Hakim said.
West Bengal had signed an agreement with the BGCL in June 2021 for supply of CNG buses that the state government will run.
Over the next five years BGCL will set up CNG facilities in various government bus depots. Primarily, eight bus depots have been identified where CNG stations will be set up in the first phase, including in Salt Lake, Thakurpukur, Barrackpore, Belgharia, Howrah, Santragachhi and Karunamoyee.
The Bengal Gas Company Limited will invest Rs 3.5 crore towards building CNG infrastructure at each depot.
Transport department officials said introduction of CNG-powered buses would lead to considerable reduction in operational cost as fuel costs could be cut down by 25-30 per cent.
Each CNG station can refuel 15 buses in an hour.
Senior officials of the Bengal Gas said the company would invest around Rs 7,000 crore towards setting up the gas grid in Kolkata and its adjoining areas.
“The state government needs to come out and support private bus operators who are waiting to switch to CNG,” said Tito Saha, general secretary of the City Suburban Bus Services, which recently introduced five CNG-powered buses in New Town.
On Wednesday, transport department officials said the government was working on a package to encourage private bus operators to switch to CNG.