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After buses,CNG on offer for cars now,but auto drivers not convinced

It began with Pune Mahanagar Parivhan Mahamandal Ltd buses,in time for the Commonwealth Youth Games in October.

Written by Ranjani Raghavan | Pune |
January 9, 2009 1:11:04 am

It began with Pune Mahanagar Parivhan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) buses,in time for the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in October. But soon a number of auto-rickshaws and cars in the city,too,will be able to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

In the last few days,several dealers have said that they have received sanctions from the offices of the Transport Commissioner and the Regional Transport Office (RTO) to begin the process of equipping three-wheelers and four-wheelers with CNG kits.

“We have received a few applications and in some cases the authorisation process is going on. Once the transport commissioner grants approval,they may begin the process of retrofitting in vehicles immediately,” said RTO’s Chandrakant Kharatmal.

To ensure the availability of CNG fuel,Maharashtra Natural Gas Ltd (MNGL) is in the process of commissioning three new CNG pumps in the next fortnight. “In the beginning,we will be able to cater to around 2,000 vehicles but as more vehicles opt for CNG,we ought to be able to supply fuel for over 7,000 vehicles,” said MNGL managing director Shama Sunder.

However,convincing auto rickshaw drivers of the advantages of CNG may not be easy. After the Bhurelal Committee report on the pollution levels in the city,several auto rickshaw owners with vehicles over 15 years of age were forced to convert to LPG.

At present,around 10,000 autos are said to be run on LPG,but auto drivers have been complaining about availability. “After the LPG experience,we doubt whether auto drivers will go in for CNG conversion with enthusiasm. LPG availability has always been irregular and no one has been made accountable for it. In Mumbai too,where taxis run on CNG,the fuel availability is very irregular,” pointed out Rickshaw Panchayat President Baba Adhav.

“Kits are also very expensive,which makes them unaffordable for most drivers. If the auto drivers covert to CNG and find the fuel irregular,they will have to reconvert to petrol kits,another added expense.”

At present,MNGL has pumps at Chikli,Warje,Lulla Nagar and Pimple Saudagar. Three new ones are being set up at Kondhwa,Hinjewadi and along the expressway. However,most of the pumps will be on the outskirts of the city,which will be a deterrent to those keen on converting to CNG.

“We can start the process of CNG retrofitment today,” said Parag Shah,a dealer who said he had received sanction from the transport commissioner for retrofitting four-wheelers with CNG kits. “Once the process gains momentum,we will be in a position to convert around 500-800 vehicles to CNG each month,” Shah said.

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