CNG-fuelled auto-rickshaw drivers in the city are in a fix, thanks to dearth of compressed natural gas (CNG) outlets.
There are close to 8,000 auto-rickshaws depending on CNG, but, curiously, there are just four filling stations, that too located in four corners of the city. While one is at Pamulakalava near Nunna, the other three are at Ramavarapadu, Bhavanipuram and Ajit Singh Nagar.
According to Bujji of Vijayawada CNG Auto Association, the bunks run dry almost every alternate day. “Everyone has to wait for hours in queue, and on most occasions, they return empty-handed, thanks to lack of stock. It is difficult to drive down to the other part of the city for refuelling. If one fails to plan, the whole day is wasted without any income,” he says. More than 16,000 families are dependent on CNG autos, as each vehicle has two drivers working on shifts.
P. Rama Rao of the Aam Aadmi Party, who met drivers along with AAP State coordinator B. Ramakrishna Raju on Saturday, pointed out that as many as eight auto drivers had died following snakebite while waiting in queue at night at the Pamulakalava filling station.
The pumping also requires a high-pressure pump, and in times of power cut, the filling stations go idle, as generator power is sufficient to run the pump. This has become a major problem, said Narayan Prasad, vice-president, Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers Association, south zone.
Ch. Srinivas, who was among the first to switch over to CNG autos discarding his old diesel one, said: “We were happy when we were running diesel autos. Initially, CNG was priced at Rs. 18, but now it has gone up to Rs. 53. And, on top of that we have to fill in engine oil, and together it comes to Rs. 60, which is close to the price of diesel. So, what is the use? We were told that the prices will not increase.” To encourage pollution-free driving, the production of petrol and diesel autos have been stopped. And, if this trend continues, the auto drivers will be in real fix.