The Rickshaw Panchayat has threatened to go on a strike for an indefinite period if the repeated promise of setting up new CNG filling stations is not met with immediately. Having to spend long hours standing in a queue to fill CNG is making it difficult for the autorickshaw drivers and owners to sustain their business,says the biggest autorickshaw union in the city.
In 2009,the government made it compulsory for autorickshaw drivers to run vehicles on CNG in Pune. However,the union members complain,the government has not taken any step to provide adequate number of CNG outlets in the city.
The rickshaw drivers have to wait for three to four hours everyday for gas at the filling stations in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. We will not tolerate this any more. If our demands are not met with immediately and new outlets are not opened,we will come out on streets and suspend the operations. The government will be responsible for the inconvenience caused, said Nitin Pawar,convenor of Rickshaw Panchayat.
Its president Baba Adhav said: For the last two to three years,Rickshaw Panchayat has closely been following the issue with the Maharashtra Natural Gas Limited (MNGL) through the office of district collector. Now,MNGL should come forward and clarify the issue. Otherwise,we will be forced to close down its office.
Rickshaws are frequently seen waiting in long queues to fill CNG at the stations of N T Wadi in Shivajinagar,Kasarwadi and Chinchwad.
According to union members,representatives of the Rickshaw Panchayat had held a meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on various issues,including CNG supply,in August 2011.
Chavan had then instructed government authorities to take steps to increase the number of CNG outlets. He had said CNG outlets should be provided at all petrol pumps as had been done in Mumbai. However,no steps have been taken so far.
The union said there were also complaints that while some petrol pump outlets took bribes to supply CNG to vehicles jumping queue,traffic police would fine autorickshaws for violating no-parking rules as they stood in long queues.