West Bengal transport minister Firhad Hakim told the Assembly on Thursday that the state government was mulling over a proposal to phase out trams from the congested routes in Kolkata, thus retaining the electricity-propelled public vehicle only for the wider stretches of the city.
Replying to a question in the Assembly, he said the government is in favour of running the environment friendly streetcar along routes such as Khidderpore-Esplanade, but not on the narrow stretches intersecting busy roads such as Rabindra Sarani, as it could lead to traffic jams.
“In parts where the tram line runs through the middle of a thoroughfare, we have no other option but to phase it out, and probably replace it with new trolley buses which will draw power from the overhead electric wires,” Mr Hakim explained.
He later told reporters that one such trolley bus was being sourced from Europe for trial run.
Mr Hakim also pointed out that the production cost of electric vehicles might be half of that incurred for fuel-driven ones, but the lithium batteries used in those vehicles raise the overall expenses .
“We hope to undertake a study and arrive at a decision on the project in a year’s time,” he maintained.
The minister further said that the Centre should have entered into an agreement with countries that can supply Lithium mineral at a low cost.
“As of now, private parties are importing lithium at a higher cost, which is adding to the overall burden of people. The Centre can have an arrangement with lithium-producing countries which can regulate the price,” Mr Hakim told reporters.
By March 2023, the department would also bring in 400 new electric buses and another 800 other buses by 2024, the transport minister stated.
“We are also planning to give out buses under possession of West Bengal Transport Corporation on lease to private parties,” he added.
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