The ride for Suren Kalita from Khanapara to Panbazar was smooth, almost noise-free, and most importantly comfortable. An experience he has not had for the better part of his life while boarding a city bus. “Now, it is different. These buses are frequent, and they are prompt,” he commented. Commuters in Guwahati: Welcome to a new traveling experience. On January 1, the Assam State Transport Corporation with support from the Guwahati Smart City Project launched 200 Green Buses on city roads to curb a rapidly deteriorating Air Quality Index and provide a lease of fresh air to its denizens.
Kalita, while talking to this reporter on board one of the buses, said, “A ride in these buses is not only enjoyable but also environment friendly. I recommend every citizen to take rides in these buses and contribute towards a pollution-free Guwahati.”
These buses are also driver-friendly. Matiur Rehman, driver of the bus that this reporter was traveling in, said, “I have been driving city buses for nearly 12 years now. I have never driven something like this ever. It is a smooth drive for me. Technically speaking, the electronic brake distribution makes the drive very easy.”
“The resolution to introduce 100 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses and 200 Electric Vehicles (EVs) was taken during a Cabinet meeting in August 2021. The vision is to phase-out diesel buses in Guwahati, aligning with the Government’s commitment to sustainable transportation. Subsequently, an MoU was signed between GSCL and ASTC, entrusting the latter with executing the project with funding support from GSCL,” said Rahul Das, Managing Director of Assam State Transport Corporation, while talking to this newsletter.
Das said that Olectra Greentech Limited and Axom Automobiles emerged successful in the bid that followed.
Costing around ₹261 crore, these buses will serve the city and its suburbs, including Changsari, Mirza, Baihata, Jagiroad, and Chandrapur. The high-range buses will cover at least 180 km once fully charged, while the low-range buses can travel up to 140 km.
“We have developed charging infrastructures at key locations ISBT, Rupnagar, Jagiroad, Mirza, and Baihata Chariali, which supports both local and long-distance routes,” he added.
“Based on the announcement of our Chief Minister – Guwahati is on the path to a green transformation in public transport. With these green buses, 200 diesel buses have been phased out and plans are afoot to introduce additional 100 electric buses shortly. The idea is to make Guwahati’s public transport system go green by early next year,” he said.
Dr . Arup Kumar Misra, Chairman of Pollution Control Board Assam, termed it as a significant step, “At a time when Guwahati is witnessing massive construction activities, coupled with a fast-growing number of vehicles being sold, the step taken by the Government of Assam must be welcomed.”
Dr. Misra said that running of petrol or diesel vehicles driven by individuals cannot be banned nor will construction activity stop, this small but significant step will greatly work towards reducing pollution in the city.
“We are taking every possible measure to curb pollution in Guwahati. At the same time, it is also the responsibility of the people to do their bit in making Guwahati a less polluted and better living city.