BENGALURU: In Wednesday’s budget, the state decided to phase out smoke-spewing two-stroke autorickshaws in the city from April 2018. Experts say petrol and diesel-run autos can be replaced with autos running on compressed natural gas (CNG) or e-rickshaws.
The Centre recently amended the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) and allowed e-rickshaws to ply without permits. But Transport Department officials say there has been a lukewarm response to e-rickshaws. “E-rickshaw still have to be registered with the Transport Department,” said a Transport Department official.
In the budget, the state government allocated `30 crore to provide `30,000 subsidy each to owners of two-stroke autos who want to buy four-stroke LPG autos. But activists say the government should encourage e-rickshaws and CNG autos which are cheaper and cleaner options.
“Transport Department should give new permits only to e-rickshaws or CNG autos to reduce the alarming vehicular pollution level in the city,” says environmentalist A N Yellappa Reddy.
But many auto drivers complain of lack of financial assistance from the government and poor awareness.
“Most auto drivers can’t afford the cost of switching over to CNG from petrol and diesel engines. We need government subsidy to purchase CNG kits or to buy a new e-rickshaw. At present, there is only CNG filling station and two retrofitting centres in the city,” Rudramurthy, general secretary of Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union, said.
GAIL Gas Ltd opened the city’s first CNG filling station at Premnagar in Laggere but there have been few takers. GAIL officials said they will soon set up nearly 60 CNG stations across the city.