The rise in fuel prices has left auto rickshaw drivers a worried lot. The waiting period at Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) pumps is expected to go up from 15 minutes to 45 minutes with many making the shift. Unions believe additional CNG pumps across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) will help resolve the matter.
There are around 2.60 lakh auto rickshaws in Mumbai. Close to 70-75 per cent continued to ply on the road after the lockdown. “Currently, a considerable number of auto rickshaws have not hit the road. In the next six months, if adequate CNG pumps are not set up, the situation will become chaotic,” said Thampi Kurien, auto rickshaw union leader. Unions have sought to meet state Transport Minister Anil Parab, who was a trade union leader before this.
Going by the figures, there are 3,30,405 petrol/CNG vehicles registered at the four Regional Transport Offices (RTO) of Mumbai Central, Andheri, Wadala and Borivali. Out of these, the Wadala RTO tops the list with 97,793 vehicles running on petrol/CNG, followed by the ones at Borivali, Andheri and Tardeo. This year, Mumbai saw 6,706 registered vehicles plying on petrol/CNG.
The government’s failure to curtail the rise in petrol and diesel prices over the past few months played a role in the increased sale of CNG vehicles. Currently, petrol is sold at Rs 107.83 per litre (it remained constant the entire month). Diesel costs Rs 96.84 per litre (it saw a slight drop from Rs 97.45 per litre at the start of August). CNG costs Rs 49.40 per kg (it increased in March by Rs 1.50 per kg). “We have informed the RTOs and Mahanagar Gas Limited about this possible problem in the coming months. People have been opting for CNG cars owing to the rise in fuel prices. We have been told that there is a waiting period for these as well,” added Kurien.
Mahanagar Gas Limited authorities said that they are taking measures to increase CNG pumps across MMR, like Thane and Navi Mumbai. It has around 275 CNG pumps. It is expected to add 100 more in this financial year depending on the availability of land.