Why CNG buses are still a 'pipe' dream for Hyderabad

There are only about 32 CNG stations in Hyderabad, compared to 409, 254 and 424 in Gujarat, Maharashtra and New Delhi.

Published: 02nd June 2018 11:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd June 2018 09:06 AM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD: While the Telangana government seems to have a solid plan in place to boost electric vehicles  (EV) market in Hyderabad, there are many technological challenges that this sector still faces. At this juncture, many cities have been adopting Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a “bridge fuel” till the EV market is fully mature. It helps in a major way as the carbon emissions from CNG is a whopping 50 per cent less than traditional fuel sources.

As the Bhagyanagar Gas Limited (BGL), which has the rights to supply CNG in Hyderabad, and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) constantly spar with each other, the city suffers from a lack of CNG.

As of now there are only about 32 CNG stations in Hyderabad, compared to 409, 254 and 424 in Gujarat, Maharashtra and New Delhi respectively. As per information from BGL sources, there is no shortage of natural gas in Hyderabad. The problem is of denial of permissions by various government departments like GHMC, Hyderabad Road Development Corporation (HRDC) and Roads and Buildings department for digging along the roads to lay natural gas trunk line.

These are the lines through which CNG and PNG (piped natural gas) are brought to the city. Almost 80 per cent of the permissions denied were by the GHMC. The denial of permission has stalled the works of laying around 400 km of natural gas trunk line, passing along Balanagar junction-Allwyn crossroads-Gachibowli-Toli Chowki covering areas like Hafeezpet, Miyapur, Madinaguda, and BHEL. Permission to lay internal supply pipelines for households in KPHB has also been denied.

While a small town like Kakinada has about 16,000 PNG connections, Hyderabad has just about 7,800, although BGL was incorporated in 2003 exclusively to cater to three cities including Hyderabad, in the united AP. PNG is cheaper than LPG cylinders by  almost Rs 4 per kg and is also touted to be safer. States like  Maharashtra and Gujarat have as many as 17.7 lakh and 11.2 lakh PNG connections.

If the main trunk line of BGL is allowed to be laid, then PNG can be provided to almost 1-1.5 lakh households and CNG stations can be established along the route, apart from supplying of CNG to bus depots along the way.

When asked about BGL not being granted permission to lay natural gas trunk line, GHMC Chief Engineer (Maintenance), Mohammed Ziauddin, said, “Only in 2017-18 there was a blanket ban on road cutting works in the city. Permissions were denied for many companies who approached us, including a major corporate which had asked permission for 900 km. It is not like BGL has been singled out. Before last year, apart from ban on road cutting during monsoon months (June -September), there was no problem. BGL has been in Hyderabad since many years. It could have taken permission and completed works, but they applied for permissions for only 49 km in 2016 and 2017.”“Later, they applied for permission to lay pipeline for 240 km, but then there was blanked ban. So, we could not permit them,” Ziauddin said.

No rise in CNG buses in city since TS formation

Increasing the number of buses running on CNG continues to be a “pipe dream” for Hyderabad. It was in 2011 that, for the first time, about 150 buses running on CNG  were rolled out. A total fleet of 350 CNG buses was planned. Although it has been seven years since then, there has been no rise in the number of CNG buses in Hyderabad to tackle the growing air pollution levels. As per figures obtained from TSRTC, of the 3,812 buses running in Greater Hyderabad limits, only 134 are CNG. TSRTC officials cite lack of piped gas supply to its bus depots as a  reason behind it.

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