Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday flagged off an electric bus to ferry lawmakers to Lok Sabha.
"This battery powered bus is another initiative of our Make in India campaign," Prime Minister Modi said.
As part of efforts to curb pollution, the Centre is in the final stage of completing the Rs 10 crore pilot project under which 10 refurbished electric buses will be handed over to select State Transport Corporations by March 2016.
The project is a brain-child of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
According to sources, the buses gifted to the Lok Sabha for lawmakers are the first prototype developed by KPIT, Pune with consultations from Central Institute of Road Transport and the technology has been wholly developed in India.
The road transport and highways ministry is in touch with State Transport Corporations from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi for conversion of 10 diesel buses into electric ones, the source added.
The source said project involves about Rs 10 crore expenditure and after the success of the pilot project steps would be taken for conversion of existing diesel buses across the country.
"An imported electric bus costs about Rs 1.75 crore whereas the one converted indigenously will cost about Rs 60 lakh, the price of which is likely to be reduced further on technology advancement," he said.
Indian Space Research Organisation, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Madras are already in the process of developing such lithium-ion batteries.
The lithium-ion batteries would be used to transform existing diesel buses into electric, Gadkari had earlier said.
Indian Space Research Organisation scientists, in collaboration with the ministry and other wings, have developed the batteries costing Rs 5 lakh -- about a tenth of the astronomical Rs. 55 lakh for imported ones, he has said.
This is in line with the Prime Minister's 'Make in India' drive and such vehicles will be commercialised and the patents would be registered.
"We plan to convert 1.5 lakh buses in the country which currently run on diesel to electric," the minister has said.
He has also said that farmers will be encouraged to diversify towards production of bio-fuel from sugar and other products, which in turn can reap rich dividends and contribute significantly to the economic development by cutting on India's huge crude import bills to the tune of Rs. 8 lakh crore per annum.
The PM inspected the retrofit electric bus and handed over the key to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
On the occasion, Gadkari said the bus is under ‘Make in India’ initiative and another 20 are part of the pilot project.
He also lauded the role of ISRO scientists who have developed the indigenous lithium ion battery at a low cost of Rs 5-6 lakh in comparison to a huge Rs 50 lakh for the imported ones as the patent is being registered.
The bus has been launched with a commitment to contributing to the ‘Swatch Bharat’ initiative of the government, with a broader objective to make India pollution-free.
Gadkari said a policy to promote environment-friendly ethanol, bio-diesel, gas and compressed natural gas will be announced in this Parliament session as most old diesel buses are running on BS-II and BS-III engines, which are seen as highly polluting.
The government is also making regulations for allowing flex fuel vehicles that give a choice to users to choose fuel.
"The government wants to convert about 1.5 lakh state transport corporation buses into electric ones. We would like to convert buses operated by STUs in the next two years to electric mode. We are exploring innovative low-cost funding for this project," he said.
Gadkari said the government is committed to providing clean air for citizens and will take steps to introduce only eco-friendly vehicles for public transport as one such bus will save the environment from 48,000 kg of carbon dioxide.
"At the same time, we need to address problems of the existing vehicles by converting them into electric or hybrid vehicles," the minister said.
"I am sure with the increased volumes, Made in India technology buses will be available for retrofit below Rs 40 lakh."
He pegged the savings from the introduction of such buses at close to Rs 10 lakh per annum in diesel costs.
He said the steps were bound to help in reducing the country’s dependence on imported crude and the government has already introduced stringent emission norms for BS-V and BS-VI vehicles and dates for implementation have been advanced.
In the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy thanked Gadkari for the pollution-free electric bus initiative.
Also, Vinayak Raut of Shiv Sena congratulated the minister for piloting the project and hoped that the country would benefit.
As part of efforts to curb pollution, the road transport and highways ministry is in the final stage of completing a pilot project under which 20-refurbished electric buses will be handed over to select State Transport Corporations by March 2016.
Photographs: Press Information Bureau