With electric buses, West Bengal makes an ambitious push for curbing city pollution

Sweety Kumari, Atri Mitra
Electric buses have been introduced in Kolkata. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Aiming to bring down the air pollution caused by buses operated in the city, the West Bengal government has introduced around 80 electric buses; in the next 10 years, it plans to introduce more than five thousand such buses. As a result, the state government has already bagged the C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Award in the “Green Mobility” category.

“In the next few months, nearly 150 electric buses will be in use. While 80 buses are being used in and around Kolkata, the remaining 70 buses will be distributed in Haldia, Asansol and Siliguri,” a senior transport official told The Indian Express.

The government also plans to increase the number of charging stations in and around the city. If things go as per plan, the transport department would convert its entire bus fleet to electric models in a few years from now.

“Electric buses have many advantages. Their running costs are 60 per cent lower than the diesel buses,” said Narayan Swarup Nigam, Transport Secretary, Government of West Bengal. Moreover, according to an official of the state pollution control board, “an analysis of different sources of air pollution in Kolkata has revealed that motor vehicles are the leading contributor to air pollution nearly 51.4 per cent, which is followed by industry at 24.5 per cent and dust particles at 21.1 per cent”. Transport department officials claim that switching to cleaner fuel would reduce emission burden of the city drastically.

As per officials, the state's transport department is purchasing these buses with the help of the central government. Officials said the central government would shoulder half the expense. The state has already disbursed Rs 60 crore for electric buses and these buses are already plying in areas like New Town, Kamalgazi, Airport, Belghoria, Joka etc.

There have been other steps to control emissions from automobile exhausts. The state has Auto Emission Testing Centres (AETCs). The AETCs have upgraded their testing facilities with opacity meter (for smoke density testing of diesel-driven vehicles), gas analysers (for testing of exhaust emission of petrol-driven vehicles), web camera and compatible software.