95% autorickshaws now run on CNG, more refilling stations on the cards in Pune
Over 95% autorickshaws plying on the city roads are now fitted with compressed natural gas (CNG) kits. The city has over 50,000 autorickshaws that had been asked to go for CNG instead of petrol and diesel around a decade ago. Maharashtra Natural Gas Ltd (MNGL), which supplies CNG to the city, has most autorickshaws have switched over to the cleaner fuel. Pradeep Bhalerao of the Pune City Autorickshaw Federation said the process to install the of CNG kits was slow ever since it was made compulsory for the three-wheelers. “The autorickshaw drivers were initially not comfortable with CNG because of the additional expenses they were incurring for the installation of the kits. Non-availability of CNG was another challenge they faced for years,” he said. “The availability of CNG went up only during the last couple of years. The autorickshaw federations have been conducting drives and holding sessions to encourage the drivers to opt for CNG,” Bhalerao added. The civic administration provides subsidy to every autorickshaw following the installation of the CNG kits. Santosh Gade, an autorickshaw driver who has been running his vehicle on CNG for many years, said he had to spend hours at the filling stations in the past. “It used to be challenging task. The availability has improved, but the city still needs more refilling stations,” he said. The authorities should provide financial assistance for the maintenance of the CNG kits and avoid frequent increase in the fuel price, Gade added. MNGL officials said measures have been taken to set up more refilling stations in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. Besides the autorickshaws, over 1,200 PMPML buses and private cars are running on CNG in both the cities.