The state government on Tuesday asked all 23 CNG pumps in Pune to remain open from 5 am to midnight mainly to cater to autorickshaws that depend on CNG.
The move comes after auto drivers threatened to go on strike from August 15,demanding more refilling stations and longer hours of operation for all CNG pumps. Plans are afoot to open at least six more CNG stations by December.
The decision was taken at a meeting convened in Mumbai by state transport secretary Shailesh Kumar Sharma. It was attended by transport commissioner,PCMC commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi,PMC deputy commissioner R T Shinde,additional collector Ganesh Patil,representatives of oil companies,officials of the Maharashtra Natural Gas Limited (MNGL) and MLC Mohan Joshi.
Joshi has been campaigning for this move for long. He said it was decided that all CNG stations would be open from 5 am to midnight and by December there will be 6-7 additional pumps in the city. By March 2014,another five pumps will be added to the list,Joshi said.
All pumps in the city were not following the allotted time. The directive issued with immediate effect will reduce the waiting period for autos. New pumps will ease the pressure on existing ones, said Joshi.
There has been a demand to start CNG stations at all existing petrol pumps. Joshi said this issue would be addressed by additional collector Patil and respective commissioners. The MNGL sought permissions,to which Patil said he would hold a meeting with the authorities to speed it up.
Joshi said he would request autorickshaw panchayat convener Nitin Pawar to call off his fast. Meanwhile,Pawar said the outcome of the meeting was positive and he would discuss the future course of action with the members. Having more CNG stations would benefit Pune,one of the most polluted cities. Initiatives should be taken to encourage more such stations, said Pawar. The unions have been demanding more CNG stations and refilling units at all fuel stations,and a hike in auto fares.