Lay piped gas supply networks in all Indian cities: Manmohan

Special Correspondent

It's cheaper and more convenient to deliver than LPG cylinders, says Prime Minister

Promote wide usage of CNG as vehicular, cooking fuel: PMCNG helps conserve 3 lakh litres of petrol, 65,000 litres of diesel daily

MUMBAI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said environment-friendly compressed natural gas (CNG) should be widely used as a vehicular and cooking fuel in major cities of the country.

He was launching `Mahasuraksha Yojna,' an insurance scheme for auto and taxi drivers using environment-friendly CNG, here on Saturday.

Under the scheme, all taxi and auto drivers plying CNG vehicles would be covered against death or permanent disability arising out of accident caused while driving CNG-converted taxi and rickshaw. In case of death or disability, an amount of Rs. 1 lakh would be provided to the nominee of the deceased.

Dr. Singh urged the state-owned Gas Authority of India Limited and public-private joint venture Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL) to lay piped natural gas (PNG) supply networks in cities. He said piped gas was 30 per cent cheaper than liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and also more convenient to deliver. He said this should be a priority area for the Petroleum Ministry.

"The current level of CNG usage annually removes 310 tonnes of pollutants from Mumbai. It also helps conserve three lakh litres of petrol and 65,000 litres of diesel daily," the Prime Minister said, urging the MGL to promote CNG usage by private vehicles as well.

He added that with all taxis and auto rickshaws in Mumbai converting to CNG, the drivers saved almost 70 per cent of their fuel cost.

Tab on taxi, auto fares

Union Petroleum Minister Murali Deora said CNG usage not only checked pollution levels but also helped to keep tab on auto rickshaw and taxi fares.

But Mr. Deora warned that the unprecedented rise in global oil prices could necessitate fuel subsidy. He said the MGL that supplied PNG to 2.5 lakh households in Mumbai planned to extend its base throughout Mumbai by 2008.

"The extension of the PNG network will facilitate the use of LPG cylinders in rural and semi-urban areas. Usage of PNG in Mumbai made 25 lakh LPG cylinders available elsewhere. It also saved the LPG subsidy which the government had to bear," Mr. Deora said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said the State Government would provide space for fuel filling stations in the city. He sought the extension of the PNG and CNG networks to other towns in the State.