Confusion prevails over the legal status of ethanol bus — dream of Minister for Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari’s dream — reportedly donated by Swedish company Scania to the BJP-ruled Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) to be run on pilot basis.
The bus has already reached Nagpur, rather controversially, having been found parked on the premises of Purti Group’s sugar unit in Bela village a few days ago. It was later shifted near an octroi post. The bus is here following pursuance by Gadkari, who has been singing praises of ethanol as a “cheap and viable alternative to petrol and diesel”.
The company has sent the bus without any formal written acceptance to the NMC.
On this, Shivkumar, Director (Sales), Scania India, told The Indian Express, “All questions will be answered next week in a press conference at Nagpur.” On NMC accepting the donation before extending formal acceptance letter, Municipal Commissioner Shyam Wardhane said, “Honorable minister must have given assurance to the company.” With no legal provision in the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) to allow exclusively ethanol-fuelled bus, question remains how the bus, probably the first in the country, could be allowed to hit Nagpur roads. However, the NMC is planning a grand launch sometime this month and invite four Union ministers.
As earlier reported by The Indian Express, Mayor Anil Sole has sought clarifications on whether all legal requirements like RTO registration and road-worthiness certificate from Automobile Research Association of India (ARAI) are completed. Doubts persist over whether actually plying the bus on road is legally tenable as MVA has no provision for ethanol. “We can register the vehicle if advised by ARAI,” said a senior RTO officer adding that MVA provides for convertibility from petrol and diesel to either LPG or CNG, but not ethanol.” However, the official had no answer to how then the vehicle will be allowed on Nagpur roads.
NMC has outsourced city bus service to a private operator. Wardhane said, “NMC’s Transport Committee can run it. We have decided to initially run it on route to airport and later on school routes.”