Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar electric buses
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his cabinet colleagues take a ride in the electric buses. Image Credit: Public Relations Department, Bihar

Patna: The Indian state of Bihar has launched zero-emission electric buses to cut pollution and clean the environment.

The air quality which improved significantly as a result of the lockdown has once again turned alarming in the state with the capital city Patna being in the severe grip of pollution.

The state government launched the eco-friendly e-buses on Tuesday. In the first phase, 12 e-buses have been rolled out while 13 more such buses are scheduled to run by the month end. However, they have higher fares compared to fuel-run buses, which have not gone down well among the daily commuters.

These buses are equipped with various facilities such as panic buttons, GPS, CCTV cameras, speed governors, fire safety devices, mobile charging points, alarm bells and digital boards. The availability of panic buttons and alarm bells assumes much significance in the light of increasing incidents of sexual harassment of girls. The buses are also fully air-conditioned.

“The plying of electric buses will not only give a better travelling experience to the passengers but will also reduce the conventional fuel consumption which in turn will help conserve the environment,” chief minister Nitish Kumar said. The chief minister said the number of electric buses would be increased in future.

Praise from passengers

The introduction of e-buses has drawn praise from passengers who find it a major initiative to cut pollution and provide clean air to citizens battling various health complications. “Such zero-emission e-buses are the need of the hour. They will go a long way in reducing air pollution,” said a resident Farheen Khan.

Electric buses Bihar Patna
Electric buses lined up on a Patna road before their inauguration. Image Credit: Public Relations Department, Bihar

The transport department has arranged for eight charging stations in the state. Three more charging points are being created in Muzaffarpur and Nalanda. Officials said the bus can run for at least 250km on a full charge.

Bihar transport secretary Sanjay Kumar Agarwal said these buses were being run by trained drivers. The drivers have been provided by the firms from where these buses were purchased. He said charging infrastructure with the capacity 1200 KW for these e-buses had been created at an upcoming transport complex near the Patna airport.

Measures to cut pollution

The state has, of late, initiated a variety of measures to cut air pollution. Last month, the state government signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Environment Protection (UNEP) for climate resilience and low carbon development strategy formulation. Officials said the UNEP would provide technical assistance to Bihar to prepare its greenhouse gas inventory and carry out climate impact scenarios and vulnerability assessments. It will also suggest revision to the State Action Plans on Climate Change.

Apart from them, the state is set to install smog towers on the lines of New Delhi to absorb and reduce air pollution. These measures come amid the state government already launching a mega green campaign across the state in a bid to conserve the environment. Under part of this campaign, the state government planted 34.7 million trees in 2020.

Patna was ranked the seventh most polluted city in the world in a recent Greenpeace report which was released in 2018. According to the 2018 World Air Quality Report jointly prepared by IQAir AirVisual and Greenpeace, the annual level of PM 2.5 --particulate matter less than 2.5 microns-- in 2018 was 119.7 micrograms per cubic meters in Patna.

The Bihar State Pollution Control Board has described vehicular emission, domestic fuel burning, open waste burning, construction activities, industrial emissions and road dust as the main causes of air pollution.