In a bid to control rising pollution levels, the West Bengal government has decided to convert Kolkata city and its three satellite towns — Rajarhat, Bidhannagar, and New Town into eco-friendly cities by switching to only CNG and e-vehicles by 2030.
"Since 2011, there have been plans to create a smart and green city in the state. The city has an eco-friendly tram and an underground metro. There are plans to launch electric buses. Already 300 government buses in the city have been converted to CNG," West Bengal Transport Minister Firhad Hakim said in a recent meeting.
"Currently 100 electric buses are plying in the city and there are plans to introduce more than 1,000 CNG buses on Kolkata roads soon," the outgoing Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation said, according to News18.
"The government has prepared a detailed transport plan and will gradually phase out fossil fuel-run vehicles from the city. We will replace the fleet with compressed natural gas and electric-run vehicles. Autos will also run on CNG and electricity," Hakim added.
Charging Stations And Piped CNG
The West Bengal government planned to set up 3,500 charging stations in greater Kolkata and promised that piped CNG would reach Kolkata in a span of two years.
"For private electric vehicles, the government may consider a tax cut to encourage the switch," he said.
Kolkata is one of the most polluted cities in the country, where much of the unclean air is because of diesel-driven public vehicles.
Though environment experts pointed out that the state government had often not shown the promptness that Hakim promised to hold out, the West Bengal transport minister assured that the government is keen to introduce environment-friendly public transport to give Kolkata a cleaner and greener environment.
New Town has already been identified as a Green City. The state government has made constant efforts to make the entire New Town eco-friendly. Solar panels, public bicycle sharing systems, separate bicycle tracks, electric charging stations, green buildings are also being constructed.
Hakim said that plans have been made to build Kolkata and New Town model cities in the first phase and this model will be further replicated for other cities in the state.