Delhi’s CNG infrastructure is not adequate to cope with increase in demand: Experts
The Supreme Court appointed panel is pushing for a ban on non-CNG vehicles as an emergency measure when pollution levels soar but Delhi’s existing CNG infrastructure is not sufficient to cater to any increase in number of vehicles, say transport experts and fuel operators. The CNG infrastructure has not kept pace with the number of vehicles converting to CNG, a cleaner and cheaper fuel, and long queues at filling stations are a common sight. Almost 16 years after the state-run Delhi Transport Corporation buses switched to CNG, there are only 400 refueling stations to cater to 9.68 lakh CNG vehicles, including commercial ones. Of this, nearly 4 lakh are private vehicles. According to Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL), the sole supplier of CNG, Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad have 452 refuelling stations. It plans to add 50 more stations by March 2019. The SC-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) had earlier this year asked IGL to increase refueling stations to reduce the long queues. Fuel pump operators said such an emergency measure may cause even more chaos at gas stations. “There are long queues at most fuel stations in the day while those near the borders have vehicles piling up at night as well. If this is the situation on a regular day, allowing only CNG vehicles will lead to even more chaos. At present, if CNG is not available, people use petrol, which will not be the option in case the ban is imposed,” Nishit Goel, spokesperson, Delhi Petrol Dealers Association, said. At night, a large number of goods vehicles from neighbouring states halt in Delhi for refueling. This is mainly because of two reasons — fewer gas stations in other NCR cities and CNG prices are higher in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, from where a lot of goods traffic comes to Delhi. “At any given day, CNG stations in Delhi remain crowded in comparison to Noida and Ghaziabad because the fuel is cheaper by around Rs 10 here. The queues across Delhi and NCR would only grow longer because of an increase in consumption,” said Alok Kaushik, a banker, who lives in Noida and travels to Delhi for work. E S Ranganathan, MD, IGL, said they are ready to take on the extra load of vehicles if the emergency measure is imposed. “At present, we are selling around 30 lakh kg of CNG on an average per day while we have a capacity of selling around 40-42 lakh kg per day. In case of CNG vehicles increase on roads, including taxis and private vehicles, we will be able to cater to them as well,” said Ranganathan.