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HT spotlight:Can CNG fuel change in Chandigarh tricity?

CNG improves air quality and is lighter on the pocket than petrol or diesel. Though sales of CNG vehicles are low in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali more gas stations coming up here in 2018-19 could change the picture.

punjab Updated: Jul 18, 2018 12:42 IST
Ifrah Mufti
Ifrah Mufti
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh tricity,CNG fuel,compressed natural gas
CNG vehicles queue up at the filling station in Sector 44, Chandigarh. More stations coming up in 2018-19 will mean easy availability of gas. (Sikander singh chopra/HT )

It has almost been a year and a half since compressed natural gas (CNG) was introduced in the city, but in spite of the over 4,500 cars and taxis running on the green gas there are only four CNG filling stations in the Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali.

Users complain that they have to wait for more than an hour at the pumps to get gas, the reason why many of them have sold their vehicles.

Corroborating this, city based car dealers report higher sales of used CNG cars instead of new ones . Government authorised dealers also say they get around 50 cars for conversion to CNG every month.

A few residents such as Panjab University professor Vinod Kumar, however, say the money saved on fuel is worth the trouble.

CNG gas is available for Rs 47.8 per kg, petrol for Rs 73.97 and diesel for Rs 66.55 per litre. A round trip from Chandigarh to Delhi in his CNG small segment car just costs Kumar Rs 1,300, including toll money, whereas a petrol version runs up fuel bills of Rs 2,500 to Rs 2,700.

Indian Oil-Adani Gas Pvt Ltd, a joint venture of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and Adani Gas Ltd, plans to come up with four more CNG stations by November, but is there a real need for them?

Santosh Kumar, head of the environment, science and technology department, Chandigarh administration, believes CNG still has the potential to be a game changer in Chandigarh. “Till the time we do not run the entire public transport of Chandigarh on CNG, we cannot improve the air quality, which is being hampered. All autos and buses should run on CNG and air quality will definitely improve,” he says.

The Chandigarh administration will want more stations opened because currently the limitations are such that buses and autos will have to go to one of the four exiting stations. If the station is available at a certain driveable distance the network of such stations will increase, says Kumar, adding that the administration will make sure that CNG modifications are made in buses and autos. “Instead of forcing the private vehicles first, we should put the public transport on CNG.”

APS Shergill, advocate, appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to examine CNG/PNG infrastructure in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, however, feels CNG is “dated” now as electrical vehicles are “in.” In the next six months, “there will be more vehicles running on electricity. The future is not fuel but battery operated vehicles,” he adds.

Despite the new stations coming up, Shergill is convinced that “the usage will remain less.”

Out of the four CNG stations that are to come up, two will be set up in Mohali’s Sector 62 (Mann Service Station) and Sector 70 (Mohali Service Station, near Sohana Gurdwara). One will be set up in Banur (NH64 Rampur Kalan IOCL Petrol pump) and one in Chandigarh’s Sector 22 (opposite bus stand) and Sector 34 (One of the stations at the Apni Mandi ground).

There are plans for more. “In 2018-19, eight CNG stations are expected to be commissioned (four in Chandigarh and four in Mohali), whereas efforts are being made to add a few more. So far we have ‘no objection certificates’ (NOCs) for one station in Chandigarh, four in SAS Nagar and two in Panchkula,” says Sandeep Jain, chief general manager, in charge Punjab, J&K, HP and Chandigarh, IOCL.

The State Transport Authority (STA) on its part is doing everything it can to promote CNG for all autorickshaws in the city. “We have already disbursed subsidies to diesel auto owners of about Rs 30,000 for switching over to CNG,” says Rajiv Tiwari, additional secretary, STA.

On why Panchkula does not have a CNG station so far, an official of the Adani group told the Hindustan Times about an issue of pipeline link permission. To commission a CNG station underground pipelines had to be laid for gas connectivity to a CNG station. “For laying that, we need to get permission from the municipal corporation and Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), which we don’t have,” he said .

Applications had been submitted to the MC and HUDA,“but it is in process since long and that is a constraint,” the official added.

Existing CNG stations

Currently the tricity has four CNG stations in sectors 44, 17, 37 and Sector 56, Mohali. The IOCL petrol pumps in Sector 56 and 44 were the first to get the CNG facility in November 2016, followed by Sector 17 and 37 in January 2018. All of these four stations have long queues most of the time, with average sale of all four coming to 30,000 to 35,000 kg per day.

Meanwhile, according to the owners of the CNG stations, a majority of CNG vehicles running in the city are the 4,000 Ola and Uber taxis and very few private cars. In Panchkula there are no registered CNG vehicles yet because there is no CNG station.

How much will it cost to install a CNG kit in your vehicle?

There are four government authorised CNG kit dealers in the city, including Pankaj Auto gas, Industrial area, IS industries in Industrial area, Amalia Petrol pump in Sector 44 and the petrol pump in Sector 48.

Pankaj Kakkar, owner of two branches in Chandigarh, Pankaj Auto Gas and IS Industries, said, “The minimum cost to fit the CNG kit in a car is Rs 28,000 and the maximum is Rs 52,000. The EVO CNG Avance OBD2 CNG Sequential Kit costing Rs 52,000 is the most expensive and the most advanced for new-generation modern cars. Vehicles inclding Tata Zest, Tata Bolt, Ciaz, Ford, CRV, Toyota Fortuner among the other big cars can run only on the latest CNG kit costing Rs 52,000.

The kits costing Rs 28,000 to Rs 32,000 can be fitted into cars like Wagon R, Alto and other old model cars.

Once fixed, the cylinder is inspected once in two years.

A CNG cylinder to be fixed in a car has a capacity of 60-65 litres and weighs 60 kg.

What your RC needs

Once the kit is fixed in the vehicle, owners have to fill a form with the registering and licensing authority (RLA) for specifying in the RC that the vehicle is run on CNG

Checklist for RC endorsement:

  • Invoice of dealer CNG kit
  • Back purchase bill registered (CNG kit distributor in the name of dealer)
  • Installation certificates by RFC
  • Cylinder certificate
  • Customer’s certificate
  • ID Proof: Adhar card or voter card or passport copy
  • Pollution copy
  • Insurance copy
  • Original RC
  • Application from owner of vehicle to endorse CNG on RC, addressed to RLA.

CNG gas is available for Rs 47.8 per kg, petrol for Rs 73.97 and diesel for Rs 66.55 per litre.

A petrol based car having a good mileage can travel for 18 to 20 kms per litre but a CNG based car can travel more than 30 km per kg. Cars including Alto and WagonR with CNG can cover 250 kms at a cost of about Rs 400.

‘Using the green gas has its benefits’

Prof Vinod Kumar Grover, former chairperson of mathematics department, Panjab University, says though it’s a “torture” to fill up on CNG at the stations, using the green gas has its own benefits.

“It is much cheaper as compared to petrol and diesel. I have a CNG Alto and travel to Delhi just costs me ₹1,300 to and fro, including toll tax. However, driving to and from Delhi in the other petrol car costs approximately ₹2,500 to 2,700,” he says.

Meanwhile taxis such as CNG-run Ola and Uber run up bills of just ₹600 for 25 rides per day. Drivers say that CNG costs more in summer because of air conditioner use.

Advantages:

  • Cheaper than petrol, diesel and more mileage per kg of volume.
  • 50% cost saving
  • Pollution control

Disadvantages:

  • The latest version of CNG kit is expensive (₹52,000)
  • No boot (luggage) space in cars
  • Struggle to get the CNG filled in the city with less dispensing units. (It is filled on pressure and takes more than five minutes to fill a cylinder)

Points to remember:

  • Initial cost to install a CNG kit varies between Rs 30,000-52,000. The most expensive and advanced kit is for the new model cars.
  • The CNG kit cannot be fixed in any diesel car.
  • It has a capacity of 60-65 litres and weighs 60 kgs.
  • CNG based car (Alto/WagonR) can travel between Chandigarh and Delhi to and fro in only Rs 1300 inclusive of toll tax.
  • No approval from Chandigarh administration to fix CNG kit in two-wheelers

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 12:42 IST