Consider this. A rickshaw driver saves Re1 per km by converting his vehicle to compressed natural gas (CNG). However, he has to spend Rs25,000 for purchasing the CNG kit and, once the vehicle is converted, wait in queue for thee to four hours a day to get a refill.
Dearth of sufficient CNG pump stations in the city and setting up of pumps at places where CNG vehicles do not ply are the two major factors for this situation. For the over 25,000-odd CNG vehicles in the city, including over 20,000 autorickshaws, 5,000 four-wheelers and 310 PMPML buses, there are only 14 pumps in the entire 700-km plus area of the city.
The autorickshaw drivers at the CNG pump station in Narveer Tanaji Wadi, Shivajinagar, which witnesses the longest queue, told DNA that it is an upheaval task for them to get a fuel refill as the number of CNG supply stations is limited.
“Most of the CNG pump stations are in the fringe areas and they run out of fuel often. Hence, we have to spend three hours daily in the queue and our business is severely affected,” said Tatya Mahadeo Phadtare, an autorickshaw driver.
There are presently 11 daughter booster stations (outlet stations) and three online stations (central stations) in the city, inclusive of Pimpri-Chinchwad.
However, since most of the stations are outlets, they run out of fuel most of the times. Out of the three central filling stations, only the station at Shivajinagar is located in the heart of the city and the auto drivers are heavily dependent on this sole station
“The pressure at the central station is more and fuel availability is guaranteed,” said Devendra Kumar, an autorickshaw driver.
Though the Supreme Court has directed to promote CNG for public transport, the scarcity of CNG pump stations in the city has forced most of public transport vehicles to continue on diesel and petrol. The ones who have switched to CNG have to bear the brunt due to the tedious situation.
Autorickshaw driver Saiyad Ismail, who continues to use petrol said, “Though CNG is cheaper and good for the environment, the dearth of pumps reduces the daily business by 30% as we have to spend three out of the 10-12 working hours stranded in the queue. It is better to continue on petrol till the authorities increase the availability of CNG.”