Straight answers


Shanti Pada Gon Choudhury , Director, WB Renewable Energy Development Agency, on popularising alternative energy powered vehicles Are battery-operated vehicles a viable alternative to conventional transport? We are trying to make people aware that they can save petroleum by using alternative modes of energy. Right now, we have developed four battery-operated autos, two of which are being used on a commercial basis in Salt Lake . These autos may be a bit slower than the petrol/diesel-run ones but they are pollution free.

Will the city have more such vehicles?
We have already spoken to the state transport department and they are willing to have such vehicles. Moreover, for developing battery-operated vehicles, we need a clearance from the Union ministry of non-conventional energy sources (MNES). The MNES is willing to provide subsidy to those who will be operating battery-run vehicles. We already have a couple of battery-operated buses which run between Science City and Salt Lake . SSKM Hospital has a battery-run ambulance.

What other vehicles are you promoting?
We are also promoting the concept of hybrid cars where the car can run on both petrol and battery. You can run the car on petrol when the battery needs to be recharged. After that you can go back to battery again.

When can we expect such cars in the city?
By the end of 2004 we are trying to launch a hybrid car, which will initially be displayed at the Energy Park on E M Bypass to create awareness among buyers. After that we can think of introducing such cars in the market.

What about introducing solar-cell operated cars?
Right now, we are experimenting with the system. Until it is cost effective, it will be difficult to launch the solar cars here.