• Slow pace of private vehicles switching to compressed natural gas worries government

    At a time when the National Democratic Alliance government is pulling out all stops to move towards a gas-based economy, it is concerned about the slow pace of private petrol and diesel vehicles switching to compressed natural gas (CNG), according to two officials from the ministry of petroleum and natural gas who did not want to be identified. Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has set a target of gas contributing 15% to India’s clean energy mix. Gas currently contributes 6.5% in India’s energy basket.

    The Narendra Modi-led government’s inclination towards cleaner sources of fuel comes in the backdrop of its pledge to reduce its carbon footprint. India on 2 October became the 62nd country to ratify the Paris climate deal which came into effect on 4 November. “The rate at which cars are adopting gas as fuel is a little worrisome as we wanted a faster conversion rate and more sizeable quantity. A lot of cars have shifted but there are still a lot more to go. We are also looking to increase CNG outlets in the country that will facilitate vehicles to have easier access to the cleaner fuel,” said one of the officials.

    The petroleum ministry in a draft policy, issued on 5 March 2015, lowered the threshold investment limit for marketing rights for CNG to Rs.5 billion from Rs.20 billion to encourage new retail outlets. According to Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, an arm under the petroleum ministry, as on 31 March 2016 there are 1,081 CNG stations in the country with 2,557,895 CNG-fuelled private vehicles consuming a total of 2,155.44 thousand tonnes of the clean fuel. Queries emailed to the spokesperson of the ministry of petroleum and natural gas on 4 October remained unanswered.

    According to experts, while there is a sizeable chunk of vehicles that use CNG there is a need to increase the number of gas-based vehicles. “Gas-based vehicles have obvious advantages over petrol- and diesel-fuelled vehicles,” said Dilip Khanna, partner at EY, a consultancy. India’s domestic gas production fell by 5% to 33.65 billion cubic metres (bcm) in financial year 2015-16 compared with 35.40 bcm a year ago. Currently, India’s natural gas demand is 473 million standard cu. metre per day (mscmd) which is expected to increase to 494 mscmd in 2017-18 and 523 mscmd in 2018-19. Morten Andersen Womens Jersey

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