Given the inadequate supply of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in the capital, many autorickshaw drivers are looking at other conversion options to run their CNG-operated vehicles.
They seem to be taking a cue from APSRTC, which converted about 30 CNG buses into conventional diesel-operated ones in the Greater Hyderabad zone after losing revenue due to short supply of CNG. The corporation spent about Rs.15,000 on each bus for the conversion in March.
About 20,000 autorickshaws run on CNG in the capital and many drivers are now contemplating to convert them into LPG-operated vehicles, despite the higher cost of LPG.
While LPG costs about Rs. 46 per litre, CNG is sold at Rs. 52 per kg. But one kg of CNG is almost equal to two litres of LPG, says A. Sathi Reddy, secretary of A.P. Auto Drivers Samaikya.
There are just 12 CNG fuel stations in the city and its suburbs and serpentine queues of auto-rickshaws waiting for fuel refill is a common sight there.
Drivers end up spending up to six hours for the refuel and at times, they have to wait overnight as well, he says.
The waiting period is robbing the drivers of precious time and is affecting their revenues.
Those who hire autos are severely affected as they lose Rs. 500 per day. All these factors are forcing auto drivers to opt for LPG, spending about Rs.13,000 per kit.
Short supply of CNG has been an issue for the last few months and even fuel station owners in the city had planned to operate their outlets for a single shift from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Each outlet requires 1,500 to 1,800 kg of CNG everyday, but oil companies hardly supply 1,000 kg.
To escape operational costs, fuel stations wanted to run for a limited time, but withdrew the move after oil companies assured of improved supply.
The State Oil Coordinator S. Hari Prasad said there was poor supply from KG basin and the government has to take a decision on increasing the supply as six more CNG stations are ready to be launched in the capital.