Himachal Pradesh will soon become the first Indian state to deploy 25 electric buses on the Manali - Rohtang pass. It is believed that the final purchase order for these buses would be placed within a week from now.
GS Bali, Transport Minister for the state, said, “Trials of these buses have been successfully conducted last year and the purchase orders will be placed within a week.” Sources claim that two companies, probably one Indian and other Chinese, have already placed their bids.
The National Green Tribunal of India had earlier banned diesel buses on the Rohtang - Manali pass, as the heavy pollution emitted by these was leaving a deep impact on this ecologically fragile route. The NGT had directed the Himachal Pradesh government to use buses powered by CNG or electricity only.
It is learnt that the cabinet, in order to promote electric vehicles and environment friendly public transport system, on May 11, 2016, had already exempted these from paying registration fees and token taxes. The decision was taken in tandem with NGT's bid to encourage use of electric vehicles in the country.
NGT’s principal bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, had said that the cost of these buses would be borne in 75:25 ratio by the central and state governments, respectively. The Union Ministry of Heavy Industries has already approved INR 1.50 crore each for the purchase of these 25 electric buses. The prices, however, are subject to the finalisation of electric buses’ specifications by the Government of India.
Several CV manufacturers have given bus trials on the Manali-Rohtang pass till now. It will be really interesting to see which bus maker wins the contract for supplying these buses to the state of Himachal Pradesh.
The State Government of Himachal Pradesh will try its best to procure electric buses before the beginning of the tourist business.