A Kolkata-based company has designed a bus that will run on biogas produced from cow dung. The first bus was flagged off on Saturday and will run between Ultadanga in the north and Garia in the south in Kolkata.
At just Re 1 for the 17.5 km stretch, the bus will be the cheapest mode of transport for a passenger in the country. (The lowest fare in a Kolkata bus is Rs 6, which goes up to Rs 12 for 17 km, and that of a Delhi bus that run on CNG is Rs 5 for 4 km and upwards.)
Phoenix India Research and Development Group, which has produced the biogas from cow dung, has tied up with heavy vehicle major Ashok Leyland to manufacture the 54-seater bus at a cost of Rs 13 lakh approximately.
As many as 15 more buses will be launched on different routes in the city this year. All will have the same fare structure.
Biogas is produced from animal and plant waste and principally consists of methane. It is a non-toxic colourless flammable gas that can be used as fuel for vehicles, cooking and generating electricity. It is also a clean source of fuel and environment-friendly.
“We are producing biogas principally from cow dung in our plant in Birbhum district. The fuel is transported to Kolkata in tankers,” said Jyoti Prakash Das, chairman and managing director of Phoenix India Research and Development Group, the company which is launching the service.
Explaining the economics, he said, “The biogas we produce costs Rs 20 a kg. The bus can run 5 km on one kg now.”
Das, who has a PhD in Botany and has been working on biogas for the past eight years, said they are planning to source a technology from Germany that “will enable the vehicle to run 20 km on the same amount of fuel. The tank can hold 80 kg gas, and therefore, the vehicle can run 1,600 km on a full tank. That’s why the fare is so cheap.”
The salary of drivers and conductors will be given from advertisements that will be put up on the body of the bus.