With the Centre giving its approval to increase the prices for natural gas, compressed natural gas (CNG), on which Delhi’s public transport fleet runs, is likely to get costlier by Rs 6 per kilogramme.
With this increase, the CNG rates will have gone up by Rs 9 over the past 11 months.
While CNG will still be the cheapest fuel, this price hike will bring it closer to the rates of diesel—preferred by motorists who drive long distances on a daily basis.
“Two years ago, CNG had caught up in a big way with motorists opting for the cheaper, alternate fuel. With each increase in CNG prices our customers decreases,” says Deepak Singhal, who retrofits CNG kits in petrol vehicles.
Diesel in Delhi is priced at Rs 38.10 per litre while CNG will now cost Rs 28 per kilogram.
Rajeev Sachdeva of Sachdeva Motors, says the high cost of maintenance of diesel-run vehicles will push people to CNG.
Indraprastha Gas Limited spokesperson, however, “The cost of operation of CNG vehicles is still 35 per cent that of the petrol-run vehicles. More and more automobile companies are coming up with CNG-variant cars. It is still a preferred fuel for a large population.”
Meanwhile, auto-rickshaw and taxi unions have intensified their demand for an immediate increase in their fares. Auto drivers’ unions said the recent CNG price hikes have already affected their earnings.
“With this increase, it will be difficult for us to sustain. We have to bribe transport officials to get small jobs done. Now our running cost will increase. We can’t survive if the fares are not increased,” said Sobran Singh Rajput, president, Bhartiya Tipahiya Chalak Sangh.
The auto unions in Delhi want the first kilometre of the journey priced at Rs 20 and the subsequent travel at Rs 10 per kilometre.
A senior Delhi government official said the transport department has been asked to analyse how much the CNG price hike will impact the cost of running public transport in Delhi.
“The increase will affect the operation of buses, autos and taxis that run only on CNG in Delhi. We are planning to form a fare revision committee to look into the demands,” he said.