In a city where app-based taxis and cab fleets are the lifeline for lakhs of commuters, less than 1% of the vehicles run on CNG. Of the total 13,207 cabs registered in Gurgaon, only 36 use compressed natural gas (CNG).
Environment and transport experts find this number disturbing as courts and government authorities across the national capital region have been promoting the use of the cleaner fuel.
According to the Gurgaon road transport authority (RTA), 12,464 diesel and 707 petrol cabs ply in Gurgaon. This means the percentage registered CNG cabs in the city is about 0.27%.
The primary reason for very few CNG cabs in the city is the low supply of the fuel — Gurgaon has only seven CNG pumps. Additionally, an ongoing family feud of the sole CNG distributing agency — Haryana City Gas Distribution Limited — has led to demand and supply gap.
Cabs registered in Delhi that are used by corporate offices in Gurgaon also run on diesel as drivers have to wait in long queues for a refill at these seven pumps.
Earlier, several private companies in the city had plans to replace their diesel cab fleets with CNG ones. But the inadequate supply of the green fuel compelled them to retract their plans.
Environment experts say this is a worrying trend and are banking on the recent directions that prohibit the registration of diesel cabs in the national capital region.
Experts in Gurgaon have long been suggesting for such radical steps such as banning old vehicles and imposing prohibitive parking fees, which will help bring down the rising air pollution levels in the region.
“The state government needs a clear action plan and policy in this regard. It needs to provide integrated solutions that ensure a smooth commute, along with a good transport network,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Last week, the Environment Pollution Control Authority EPCA directed seven districts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to halt registration of autorickshaws, taxis and buses that run on diesel.
However, transport planners say that the use of one single fuel alone cannot help reduce toxic vehicular emissions. Non-motorised transport (NMT), instead, is the way forward, according to them.
“For example, ultra low sulphur diesel is comparable with CNG in terms of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions, a study states. Emission reduction technologies and after-treatment devices are necessary to reduce toxic vehicular emissions,” said Amit Bhatt, strategy head of urban transport, EMBARQ- WRI India.
Meanwhile, Gurgaon has more CNG autorickshaws than diesel — out of the total 22,162 registered autos, 11,245 are CNG and 10,917 are diesel. Up till 2013, the number of diesel autos was almost double of CNG autos.
According to officials of the Gurgaon road transport authority, in the last two years, the department has reduced the registration of diesel autorickshaws and stopped renewing licences of old vehicles. The steps aim to reduce rising air pollution levels in the city.