Several auto rickshaws plying on share-auto routes on the Kandivli-Bhayander belt, kept off the road on Thursday because of unavailability of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) that fuels their vehicles, after a pipeline burst in Malad on Wednesday. Commuters faced a difficult time with fewer vehicles at their disposal.
CNG supply to 18 gas stations was hit after a Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) pipeline burst at Pushpa Park on the Western Express Highway while excavation work was being carried out for the Metro line .
After the incident, MGL officials had assured residents that the pipeline will be repaired and gas supply restored before 1pm on Thursday. However, it has now accepted that it may miss the deadline.
“We are trying our best to restore CNG supply but it is less likely to be completed before 1pm. It may take a few more hours,”said Neera Asthana, chief spokesperson of MGL.
The unavailability of fuel affected auto-rickshaw services.
Autorickshaws in Borivli started refusing customers from Wednesday evening itself, with many complaining about lack of fuel at nearby pumps. “I ended up waiting for 25 minutes for an auto yesterday, which otherwise is not a difficult task at 9pm. Most drivers were polite and suggested that we opt for buses instead,” said Prashant Mehta, a 54-year old businessman and resident of Borivli (W). He added that around 9:30pm on Wednesday, he finally managed to find a vehicle that agreed to take him to his destination, and he shared it with two others.
Shashank Rao, leader of Mumbai Auto rickshaw Taximen’s Union, said that about 8 to10 per cent auto rickshaws could not ply because of the absence of fuel. Share autos were mainly affected as the rest filled gas from other parts of the suburbs.
“The situation may worsen in the evening if CNG supply is not restored,” cautioned Rao.
AL Quadros, leader of the taxi union, said that taxi services were unaffected because cabbies refilled their vehicles in other parts of the city.
Long queues of autos were seen outside CNG stations in Goregoan and other areas on Thursday.
BEST bus services were also affected with CNG supply to three depots ---Gorai, Poysar and Magathane--- getting hit. BEST was forced to send these buses to Dindoshi and Majas depot for fuel.
MGL’s emergency team is currently at the site and restoration work is in full swing.
“We regret the inconvenience caused to our consumers in Kandivli, Borivli, Dahisar, Mira Road and Bhayander because of the disruption,” said an MGL spokesperson and also requested people to contact helpline numbers 1917 or 26594500 / 61564500 for details.