Himachal Pradesh today became the country’s first state to ply eco-friendly electric buses on the 51-km eco-fragile stretch between Manali and Rohtang.
Directives from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had compelled the hill state to explore the possibility of eco-friendly transportation to save the area from further degradation. The NGT had banned diesel and petrol vehicles between the popular tourist destination of Manali and Rohtang, evoking a strong reaction. Later, the tribunal fixed their number at 1,200 (800 petrol and 400 diesel) on issuance of permit .
As no company in India manufacturing battery-operated buses, these have been imported.
The service to Rohtang has been launched with the first consignment of 25 buses, each priced at Rs 1.70 crore. The Ministry of Surface Transport, that has provided 75 per cent funding, has agreed to 90 per cent funding for the purchase of smaller electric buses to be plied in other tourist towns.
In winters when the service to Rohtang is halted, these buses will be pressed into service in Manali, Kullu, Dharamsala, Mandi and Kasol as our effort is to protect environment.
Each electric bus, with a capacity to carry 30 passengers, can cover a distance up to 200 km on a fully charged battery. The fares are yet to be fixed but would be marginally higher than those for petrol/diesel buses.
Himachal is next working towards CNG-operated buses on the Manali-Rohtang stretch. The Gas Authority of India Ltd is yet to lay the Una-Manali CNG pipeline.