Public transport in Patna. Photo: iStock

The Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to replace diesel-run vehicles with compressed natural gas (CNG) ones and will not purchase new diesel-run vehicles anymore for its sanitation work, according to officials.

This will be another positive development to ensure diesel-free vehicles on Patna’s roads. The state government had decided in 2019 to ban diesel vehicles from the Bihar capital’s roads in order to check increasing air pollution. But its full implementation was delayed due to official apathy.

PMC commissioner Animesh Kr Parashar confirmed that all diesel-run vehicles of PMC will be replaced by CNG vehicles. “We will do it in phases. There will be no diesel-run vehicles of PMC on the roads soon,” he told this reporter.

Parashar said PMC will not purchase new diesel-run vehicles and will use CNG vehicles. “All old diesel-run vehicles of PMC will be replaced by CNG. We will only use CNG-run vehicles. This will strengthen the fight against air pollution and help reduce emissions,” he added.

According to a senior PMC official, about 100 old diesel-run auto-tippers will be replaced by CNG in the first phase. This will end an era of diesel-run auto-tippers, which were in use for years.

PMC will replace heavy diesel-run vehicles including trucks carrying garbage and compactors with CNG. Similarly, diesel-run powerful machines like Poklen, JCBs and Bobcats will be replaced by CNG.

“The process has begun and work is in progress to replace diesel-run vehicles and machines with CNG,” the official said.

Parashar revealed that PMC is planning to introduce electric vehicles and machines as well for cleaning work in Patna. After CNG, the urban local body’s main thrust will be to increase electric vehicles and machines for pollution-free cleaning and sanitation work.

As of now, PMC has been using nearly 1,000 diesel-run vehicles for different works including dumping garbage, carrying filth, cleaning and sanitation work. “It will take some time to replace these vehicles with CNG in a phase-wise manner,” Parashar said.

The state transport department has already phased out all diesel-run auto-rickshaws from Patna roads. Last year, the department banned the plying of diesel-run autos and replaced them with CNG.

Recently, the government announced plans to ban diesel-run buses (town bus) in Patna and its adjoining urban areas from October 1, 2023.

There are more than 250 diesel-run buses in Patna and the neighbouring semi-urban areas of Danapur, Khagaul and Phulwari Sharif.

The government has also invited applications for providing subsidy under the clean energy scheme to private bus owners for converting their diesel buses to CNG.

“The department has encouraged owners of private diesel buses, including mini buses, to convert to CNG. It will provide a subsidy to them to purchase new CNG buses. But they would have to declare their diesel-run bus as scrap,” an official of the department said.

A total of 161 CNG buses are operating in the state, according to department data.

There are nearly two dozen CNG filling stations in Patna as of now. Government officials said the number will double by next year

Patna’s air quality index has become ‘very poor’ in recent years. Experts and the Bihar State Pollution Control Board have emphasised that air quality in Patna has deteriorated due to vehicular emissions, along with other things.

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