Waiting for the bus

As has happened in other cities, adoption of compressed natural gas (CNG) for public transport in Ahmedabad is stuck in a bureaucratic tangle. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) is to introduce 100 new CNG buses and convert 300 existing buses to CNG by December 31, 2004. This is part of an action plan of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) submitted to the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority formed by the Supreme Court.

AMC insiders say the proposal for buying new state transport buses has been pending for four months. Bureaucrats and corporators disagree on the company from which these be purchased and the emission standards they should meet. "There are elements resisting the move to buy the latest Euro iii compliant buses with lower emission levels,' AMC sources revealed. The AMC standing committee considered the proposal in the second week of July 2004. It was dubbed "vague and unclear' and sent back because it did not specify the bus manufacturer and was tabled without inviting tenders, says Jayantilal Parmar, the committee's chairperson, who wants national bids for the purchase of buses.

"Why should we invite national bids when there are only two suppliers [TATA and Ashok] of CNG buses,' asks T G Jalavadia, deputy commissioner in charge of transport. AMC had sent its transport committee members to Mumbai and Delhi to study the performance of CNG buses. Two months later, they are yet to submit any report. In the meantime, two CNG dispensing outlets were to be ready before the onset of the monsoon. Not one has come up till now. But GPCB member secretary Sanjiv Tyagi isn't without hope: "The work is underway and the deadline will be met.' After government buses convert to CNG, it is the turn of 50,000 auto-rickshaws and private buses.