The Himachal Pradesh government on 21 September 2017 launched first-of-its-kind electric bus service in the ecologically fragile 51km-long stretch between Manali and Rohtang Pass.
The bus service was flagged off by State Transport Minister GS Bali along with Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus. The move was made amidst concern over increasing environmental degradation in the Rohtang Pass area due to plying of diesel taxis.
With this initiative, the state has become the first in the world to ply electric buses at an altitude of 13 thousand feet.
• There would be a total of 10 buses in the fleet.
• All the buses have been imported by the state government, as no company in India manufactures such battery-operated ones.
• Each electric bus would have the capacity of seating 30 passengers and would be able to cover 200 km with fully charged batteries.
• Though the fare is yet to be fixed, it would be marginally higher than the diesel buses.
• The main objective behind the initiative is to curb carbon emission which is resulting in melting of glaciers in the Himalayas.
• The Himachal state government was forced to introduce zero-emission transportation facility in fragile areas after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) took stringent step of imposing restriction on the entry of vehicles to Rohtang Pass.
• The NGT had earlier shown concern over the melting of glaciers in the Rohtang Pass area, as they were receding at an alarming rate of 19-20 meters per year.
• Due to this concern, the tribunal restricted the entry of vehicles to the tourist spot to 1000 vehicles per day, including both diesel and petrol vehicles and exempting electric and CNG vehicles.
• Though the state government was planning to introduce CNG buses, the plan was shelved as it wasn’t viable and the alternate was proving costly.
Who: Himachal Pradesh
When: 21 September 2017