While delay in availability of cooking gas is something that the households are learning to live, the plight of those using liquefied petroleum gas to fuel automobiles is no different. The city has been facing a situation of limited availability of Auto LPG for quite sometime now.

Though 24,100 of 62,000 autorickshaws that ply on the city's roads are equipped with an LPG kit, many continue to run on petrol due to acute shortage of LPG.

There are only 22 Auto LPG dispensing stations across the city.

The number of outlets has not increased despite more LPG-run autorickshaws hitting the city's roads following the ‘open permit' system of the Transport Department.

J. Seshasayanam, general secretary of the Madras Metro Auto Drivers' Association, says that while about seven lakh litres of LPG is required per day, the supply is limited to about 2.2 lakh litres.

“LPG-driven vehicles generate less noise and pollutants from the tail-pipe emission are less. Many are also willing to use it, but the government has not taken any steps to augment supply.”

He adds that any programme that attempts to make the city greener must start with the city's government-operated bus fleet and also involve participation from a section of private users to be successful.

S. Purushothaman, coordinator of the 113 tourist-friendly autorickshaws in the city, says that there is a definite need for more Auto LPG filling stations since queuing up at the bunk for fuel is a regular affair.

“Passengers won't wait for 30 minutes inside a bunk. Sometimes a particular bunk does not have LPG stock and we have to go in search of another filling outlet. It is a hassle,” he says.

A senior Transport Department official says that various safety-related constraints, such as the requirement of 100 feet of setbacks in all directions and the absence of schools and hospitals in the vicinity, have restricted more dealers from opting to set up LPG outlets within city limits.

“We are looking at ways to provide incentives to smoothen the adoption of alternative fuels,” he says.

Limited availability of Auto LPG for quite a while