Hike in prices due to war, interest in CNG-powered buses waning


CNG or Compressed Natural Gas has come into the discussion as an environmentally friendly and cost efficient fuel at a time of growing concern over the rise in diesel prices. But in the last few months, CNG prices have increased by around 35 percent. And its negative impact has directly affected the willingness to buy CNG-powered buses.CNG-run buses were thought of as an alternative to demanding fare hikes in the case of private buses and app-cabs. Similarly, apart from introducing CNG-run private bus routes, efforts to convert diesel-run government buses to CNG-run engines have also begun. But, the way CNG prices have gone up by leaps and bounds in the last few months has almost matched the price of diesel per liter in Kolkata and the state. The price of CNG per kg now stands at Rs. 90-94 depending on the company. After the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, the supply of CNG has been disrupted due to disruption. As a result, companies producing CNG from crude natural gas have hiked its price, forcing distribution companies to hike CNG prices as well.Efforts initiated by the state government to convert 300 diesel-run buses to CNG-run buses in public transport corporations have been in limbo for a long time. There were already technical doubts about the engine change. There was also the apprehension of how much the cars could be used in the long term by spending a lot of money. So that plan was put on hold.Now that the price of CNG per kg is at par with the price of diesel, the government officials are out of breath. In their words, “Fortunately, the project was postponed. Otherwise we would have seen worse days.’However, the bus owners who are partners in the CNG-powered private bus route operating in New Town are now worried about the rise in gas prices. Initially there was a lot of interest in the question of launching CNG-powered buses. 7-8 months ago when the price of CNG was around Rs 64 per kg, the price of diesel was Rs 90-92 per litre. Also, the efficiency of one kg of CNG as a fuel is about 20-25 percent higher than that of one liter of diesel. As a result, both sides had an opportunity to benefit. Now that path is almost closed. On the route where CNG-powered private air-conditioned buses ply in New Town, 20 buses are permitted to ply the road, but 12 are actually plying the wheels. Two more buses are in the process of being put on the road.In this regard, General Secretary of City Suburban Bus Service Titu Saha said, “Gas prices are increasing by leaps and bounds, supply is also irregular. Pumps could not be manufactured in sufficient numbers. All in all, the owners are losing interest in putting CNG-powered buses on the road. According to sources, CNG-powered buses cost about 20 percent more than diesel-powered buses. As the hope of profit by spending extra money is gradually decreasing, the possibility of running eco-friendly buses is also getting weaker.

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