Is Scania wounding up its operations, shelving bio-gas project in city?

Nagpur: The Scania Commercial Vehicles India Private Ltd, a major Swedish manufacturer of commercial vehicles specifically heavy trucks and buses, could be mulling wounding up its operations in India and downing shutters of its bus producing facility as well. Losses could be the compelling reason for the company owned by the Volkswagen Group, sources said.

According to sources, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), which runs ethanol-based Green Bus for public transport, has been maintaining radio silence over the proposed bio-gas plant and operation of bio-gas buses. NMC, in association with Mahagenco, had commissioned sewage treatment plant with capacity of 130 million litres per day (MLD) two years ago. Bio-gas was to be produced from methane generated during sewage treatment. The methane has been going waste for last two years. A second plant of 200 MLD is in commissioning stage at Bhandewadi dumping yard. Methane from this plant too will go waste if Scania does not respond, sources said.

NMC sources also said Scania’s 30 ethanol-run buses are parked on the city’s outskirts at Gondkhairi on Amravati Road for last two months. Scania was supposed to run 55 ethanol buses but has been operating only 25 for last one-and-a-half years. Scania is not operating the 30 buses citing lack of infrastructure at proposed parking and repairing centre at Wadi, sources said.

Sources from Scania have confirmed that three eco-friendly buses — two ethanol and one bio-gas –launched in Goa were not operating since last two-and-a-half months. Scania is operating the buses in Nagpur with Pune-based Travel Time Car Rental Private Ltd. Scania was also operating buses in Goa with Travel Time. The plan in Goa was to run 130 buses — 70 bio-gas and 60 ethanol buses. However, even Travel Time does not have any idea why Scania stopped operations in Goa, sources said.

The company has reportedly closed down its buses manufacturing plant at Narsapur in Karnataka, stopped operations at Goa, and dropped the proposed project at Thane. Known as the Green Bus Operator in the city, Scania has since March this year reportedly relieved a majority of its 1,500 employees, of whom 770 were on rolls. Some officials who have been relieved were with the company since its establishment in India in 2014.

The latest developments related to Scania have also raised questions about its proposed projects in the city. Scania had stepped into the nation in the buses sector with ethanol-run bus pilot project in association with NMC and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), which is under Gadkari.

At its launch in the city on August 22, 2014, Gadkari had announced funding for 200-500 ethanol-run buses for NMC. In an interview to TOI on the sidelines of the programme, Scania MD Anders Grundstromer had also revealed plans to set up a bus manufacturing unit in the city.

Sources further said that Scania has reportedly shut down its Narsapur plant for the last two months. Some 40-odd people remain with the company, but they too have been asked to resign. Scania had manufactured around ‘1,000 ethanol-run and premium buses’ at Narsapur plant in the last three years. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had inaugurated the plant on March 31, 2015. At the same programme, Scania and development financier of Sweden — Swedfund, had signed an MoU for setting up bio-gas plant at Bhandewadi dumping yard and operation of 25 bio-gas buses in the city.