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Bus! No more CNG

As the satellite city expands, Navi Mumbai's transport body wants to add 50 buses to its fleet. Strangely, it wants buses that run on diesel

While it is well known that CNG-run vehicles are more cost-effective and environment-friendly than those that run on diesel, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT), strangely, wants to add 50 more diesel buses to its fleet of 386.



According to NMMT officials, in the last few months, their CNG buses (a total of 162) have been developing plenty of snags and in comparison to diesel buses, are more difficult to repair. GC Mangle, general manager of the NNMT, said, "Most city roads, especially those in the TTC industrial area (a division of MIDC between Kalwa and Taloja) have developed large potholes. Because of this for the last few months, around 50 buses have been breaking down on a daily basis." According to Mangle, the monsoon has also added to the problem, with many CNG run buses developing start-up problems, apart from being difficult to repair. "All this has hit the public transport system. We have to purchase diesel buses," he said.

To avail part-funding from the state and central governments under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, the NMMT has sent a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Union Ministry of Urban Development. As Mangle clarified, the NMMT hopes that the central government will provide 35 per cent of the cost of the buses, and the state government 15 per cent, while the remaining 50 per cent is borne by the transport body. Mangle said, "We are expecting a green signal from the central government soon. The buses are expected to ply in the next three months."

However, as a member of the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority  who requested anonymity, pointed out, this might not be as easy. According to JNNURM guidelines, public transport services are recommended to use CNG run buses, because they are eco-friendly and cost effective. "I don't think NMMT's proposal will be sanctioned," he said. Raising a question over NMMT's claim of CNG buses breaking down, he said, "Most BEST buses run on CNG.  In fact diesel buses are being coveted into CNG. Why is BEST complaining about the sub-standard quality of CNG-run buses?"

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