Nitin Gadkari has an ambitious plan to operate all state-run buses on electricity. He said the move will not only reduce pollution but also help cut fares by 50%. Excerpts:
There are several issues linked to pollution caused by diesel vehicles . Is the government planning to discourage diesel use?
There are no two views that diesel vehicles… cause more pollution. But when we roll out Euro-VI (BS-VI) emission norms in 2020, the fuel will be cleaner and it will make no difference whether a vehicle is using petrol or diesel.
What is the plan for clean public transport ??
We are going to produce lithium ion batteries commercially to run buses on electricity. While you pay Rs 60 a litre for petrol and Rs 52 for diesel, you need only Rs 6 per unit for electricity. If you are willing to use electricity at night, some states are even will ing to supply it to you at Rs 3. There are 16 lakh buses and about Rs 1.7 lakh buses are run by state governments. Most state transport undertakings are in bad shape. I have changed the bus code, I feel every bus should be air-conditioned, modern and should be converted to electric. I expect the fare will be 50% less for bus-users as the operational cost of such buses will be negligible.
“Isro is in the process of developing lithium ion battery for the buses. Once it is developed, it will be put in use and the cost will come down drastically,” said the official.
The official added besides Isro, IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Madras are also working on lithium ion battery. An imported battery costs about Rs 25-30 lakh.