ASTC and Assam: A Tale of Motion
Guwahati’s tryst with automobiles is very old. Legend has it that towards
the earlier part of the 20 th century, Deshabhakta Tarun Ram Phukan purchased
the first motor car in Guwahati. For many decades a motor car in the dusty lanes
of the city used to be a sign of grandeur.
The Assam Transport Department, now known as the Assam State
Transport Corporation started its operation for the first time in 16 th January 1948.
At that time only two buses ran between Guwahati and Nagaon.
Things have changed considerably since then. Today, Assam is one of the
biggest markets of passenger vehicles. Millions of vehicle ply on the road
everyday and it is hard to imagine life without automobiles. And with India all set
to become the world’s third largest market for passenger vehicles by 2021, the
demand is surely on the rise in this part of the nation as well.
However, an increase in the number of vehicles means an increase in the
levels of harmful emission which will definitely disrupt the ecosystem. As the
menace of air pollution loom large the onus of curbing it laid on the authorities
before the situation spiraled out of control.
To combat vehicular emission while effectively providing economic meansof transportation, ASTC has planned to introduce and operate electric buses in the state. 15 such buses are already ready under FAME scheme and will be hitting the tarmac in the city from September this year.
ASTC is in talks with the India distributers of Hungarian company, Csepel
Holdings, to provide the initial fleet, which in turn will be operated by the
corporation. There will be no capital expenditure involved as the buses will be
leased out on opex model but ASTC will have to pay Csepel Holdings in a monthly
If things go as planned, ASTC plans to operate 1000 such buses, provided by
the Indian distributer of the Hungarian firm in a phased manner.
The central government has already allotted 100 electric buses to Assam
under the FAME scheme where 50 are for Guwahati and 25 each for Silchar &
Jorhat. The FAME scheme aims at boosting electric mobility as the central
government contributes 60% of the price while the rest is born by the respective
Lack of ancillary infrastructure has always been one of the major setbacks
for electric vehicles. But as ASTC starts its operation of electric buses, charging
stations will be developed by Csepel Holdings. Even though, not much is known
about the availability of these stations to common public, it sure will inspire
others to follow suite
It’s a law of nature – the old always make way for the new. Even though
conventional vehicles still pack the punch & continue to be consumer favorite, yet
it seems now that their popularity is short lived. Indian government has been
trying hard to endorse electric vehicles – from subsidizing loans to price cuts but
only time will tell how successful these schemes turn out to be.
As far as Assam is concerned, come September and Sarbananda Sonowal’s
name will be etched in the motoring history of the state as the first Chief Minister
who introduced electric buses in the state.
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