A 55-SEATER bus powered by biogas, sourced from cow dung, was launched in Kolkata on Friday, with operators claiming that it is India’s first such bus service. A nominal fare of Re 1 will be charged from each passenger. The bus, powered by a German technology engine, will run on 17.5 km Ultadanga-Garia route. “The bus gives a mileage of 6 km for one kg biogas that costs Rs 20,” Jyoti Prakash Das, Chairman and Managing Director of Phoenix India Research and Development Group, an alternative energy company, said.
The initiative has been undertaken under a central subsidies plan of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Five buses will be pressed into service in the city. The bus is a part of a fleet of 16 buses to be deployed across Kolkata and surrounding areas. There will be 12 routes where the buses will ply. Two other routes are Ultadanga-Tollygunge and Ultadanga-Sector V. Nine other routes are yet to be finalised. Biogas is produced from animal and plant waste and principally consists of methane.
Officials added that the buses are being built in Delhi. These will be non-AC vehicles. Tata Motors chassis are being used for the buses. The Centre wants to promote the use of this eco-friendly and cheap fuel as it has the potential of becoming an alternative to fossil fuel. Phoenix India Research and Development Group is an alternative energy company that has been selected by the Union ministry of New and Renewable Energy to begin the use of biogas vehicles in the state.
Once the pilot run is successful, the Ministry will plan introduction of this technology on a bigger scale. Apart from issuing route permits, the state Transport department doesn’t have much to do in this regard yet. Phoenix has set up a biogas plant at Dubrajpur in Birbhum. At present, it can produce 1,000 kg of the gas, which will be transported to Kolkata by tankers. The company has got the permission to set up 100 fuel pumps. The first pump will come up at Ultadanga.