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Tuesday, Sep 24, 2019

Van drivers routine: ‘We start at 4 am, chase deadlines throughout the day in Lucknow’

The ongoing CNG crisis in Lucknow has made things worse as drivers have to wait for 6 to 7 hours in queues outside CNG stations to fetch fuel for their vehicles

lucknow Updated: Jul 29, 2017 14:43 IST
Oliver Fredrick
Oliver Fredrick
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Lucknow has only 11 operational CNG filling stations.
Lucknow has only 11 operational CNG filling stations.(HT Photo)

“Life is very tough, it’s worse than that of a dog as we are chasing deadlines throughout the day,” laments Bablu Chaurasiya, a school van driver, when asked about his daily routine.

And the ongoing CNG crisis in the city has made things worse as drivers have to wait for 6 to 7 hours in queues outside CNG stations to fetch fuel for their vehicles, he says.

Read more: No let-up in CNG crisis, long queues continue in Lucknow

Chaurasiya, a resident of Kursi Road, begins his day at 4 am, when everyone else is asleep. He leaves his house at 5 am to pick up school children. And thereon, he doesn’t know what time he would be back home and meet his family.

“We are the most vulnerable lot. In case of any accident, drivers are always subjected to people’s wrath or that of parents or school authorities,” adds Chaurasiya.

But even this doesn’t bother him much. What does is standing in queues at CNG filling stations. “Spending 6 to 7 hours in CNG queue in the blistering heat is killing. It’s actually becoming unbearable for many of us and that’s why some drivers resorted to strike,” Chaurasiya says as he joins the queue at the CNG filling station in Gomti Nagar on Friday afternoon.

Bablu Chaurasiya
Bablu Chaurasiya ( HT Photo )

“Others too may join the strike in a couple of days,” he added.

He took up the job of a school van driver around five years back after gaining proficiency in driving commercial vehicles. “The only reason why I opted for this job was less working hours. I thought I would start my day at 4 or 5am and wind up by 3pm. And in the rest of the time, I could do something else to meet out the finances of my family,” says the driver, who is the lone earning member in a family of seven.

But over the years things changed. “Our vehicles changed from diesel to CNG and my pay also increased from Rs 3,500 to 6,000 a month. But at the same time, the working hours also increased due to the poor availability of CNG in the state capital,” he adds.

The city has only 11 operational CNG filling stations. “Thirteen pumps are nothing when it comes to meeting out the increasing CNG demand in the city. Of these, two filling stations got closed in a recent crackdown by the administration that compounded the CNG problem,” says Santosh Kumar, another van driver in queue.

Read more| Lucknow: CNG crisis spells ordeal for van drivers, parents

Kumar says he has heard about new CNG stations coming up in the city. But he doesn’t know when this ‘dream’ is going to be a reality for CNG users in Lucknow. Blaming the district administration for the apathetic approach, he says, “Bade afsaron ko kya fark padta hai CNG mile ya na mile (Top officials are hardly bothered about CNG availability). It’s we poor drivers who suffer as we cannot afford to run our vehicles on petrol.”

Kaushal Raj Sharma, district magistrate, says efforts are on to resolve the CNG crisis. “The two CNG stations that got affected in the drive would be allowed to operate in order to meet out the demands. Besides, the establishment of five more CNG filling stations in different parts of the city is in progress. Most of the stations would be operational in the next three months,” adds Sharma.

First Published: Jul 29, 2017 14:43 IST