The state government will provide Rs 140 crore to the cash strapped Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation to convert 1000 diesel buses into CNG. This step will reduce not only the operating cost of buses but also make them environmentally friendly
7,000 diesel-powered buses in its fleet, accounting for 34 per cent of the total cost. Due to rising diesel prices, it has now reached 38 to 40 per cent. As a result, the corporation is getting stuck in a financial crisis day by day due to the declining number of passengers and rising fuel prices, which puts a financial burden on the corporation's coffers.
The MSRTC used to earn Rs 22 crore every day before the coronavirus outbreak, but now its revenue from passenger services has fallen to barely Rs 7 crore to 8 crore, said an official.
"Considering the continuous hike in diesel prices, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has decided to convert 1,000 of its buses into CNG. Under this decision, 1000 vehicles currently running on diesel will be converted to CNG as an alternative fuel. The state government will provide funds to the corporation for this retrofit (conversion from diesel to CNG)," said an officer of MSRTC.
The conversion of 1,000 diesel-operated buses into CNG will save the corporation more than 50,000 litres of diesel per day reduce the emissions of 1,25,000 kg CO2 daily. "The daily average diesel consumption of an MSRTC bus is more than 50 litres. This cost of conversion will be recovered in six to seven years because the cost of CNG is much lower than that of diesel," said an officer of the MSRTC operations department.
The MSRTC buses, known as the state's lifeline, cover around 44,000 villages in the state, apart from urban areas of the state. Besides Maharashtra, a corporation operates bus services to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, and Karnataka.
The corporation is in a financial crunch even before the Covid-induced lockdown, with a debt burden of around Rs 4,000 crore. The lockdown in two phases has elevated its debt burden to over Rs 9,000 crore.