Friday, December 1, 2023

Kolkata finally enters India’s CNG pump map


Kolkata has finally got two CNG pumps and planning to get five more in the next few months, offering easy availability of greener fuel for the CNG vehicle owners in the city.

Kolkata that has beaten other Indian cities in terms of adoption of electric public transport has finally got its place on the map of CNG pumps in India. With the commercial launch of two CNG pumps, Kolkata has joined the league of the cities that sell clean automotive fuel. Currently, there are more than 60,000 fuel retail stations and over 1,500 CNG pumps across India. The two new CNG pumps in Kolkata come as the latest addition to the list.

While Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has set up a CNG pump in New Town the satellite city of Kolkata, the other one was launched by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) in Garia. Apart from that, another five-six CNG pumps are expected to be launched in the city over the next few months. IOC is reportedly to set up another 20 CNG pumps in Kolkata in FY22, while BPCL and HPCL are also expected to add a similar number of CNG pumps cumulatively.

The green fuel at these two CNG pumps is being supplied by the Bengal Gas Company Ltd (BGCL), which is a joint venture between the Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL) and the West Bengal government. As the officials say, the BGCL has installed the dispensers, while the oil marketing companies have provided the space and other infrastructure for these CNG pumps.

With the surge in petrol and diesel pricing in recent times, the demands for alternative fuels like CNG and Auto LPG are increasing. The CNG and Auto LPG are proved to emit lesser pollutants as compared to conventional motor fuels like petrol and diesel. Also, in terms of pricing as well, the CNG and Auto LPG are way much cheaper than petrol and diesel. Besides that, in comparison with petrol and diesel, CNG and Auto LPG are proven to offer more mileage. This results in a less operational cost for the CNG or Auto LPG powered vehicles, in comparison with the petrol or diesel-powered vehicles.

Advantages of CNG:

  • Faster refilling – Without a queue, it takes 3-6 minutes to fill CNG in a car.
  • Cheaper than petrol and diesel – CNG cars see a huge price advantage compared to petrol and diesel.
  • CNG delivers more mileage – Compared to petrol or diesel vehicles, CNG is more fuel-efficient, resulting in more range.
  • Less pollutant – CNG is way less pollutant compared to petrol or diesel, benefitting the environment.
  • Bi-fuel friendly – CNG is bi-fuel friendly. Petrol cars fitted with CNG kits can easily run on one fuel alternatively. This results in an increased range for the vehicles.
  • Increasing availability – In the last few years, the number of CNG pumps have increased across India. Hence, refuelling CNG tank on highways or in the city is not as difficult as before.

In the Union Budget 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that an additional 100 districts around India will be connected in the City Gas Distribution (CGD) network, which is expected to connect an estimated 70% of India’s population over the next few years laying the ground for a gas-based economy.

However, there is still a lack of awareness among the consumers that play a key role in the slow growth of CNG or Auto LPG fuel in India. Not only that, the lack of availability of CNG pumps or Auto LPG dispensing stations, scarce infrastructure, unorganised or less reliable CNG kits too play a crucial role in the current scenario.

Only a few automakers like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai currently sell passenger vehicles with factory-fitted CNG kits. Getting an aftermarket CNG kit fitted to the vehicle often brings some unwanted situations for the vehicle owners, which led to the other consumers shying away from converting their vehicles to CNG ones. In the medium and heavy commercial vehicle segment that is the largest contributor to the country’s total diesel (motor fuel) sales, CNG penetration is very minuscule. CNG penetration in the country’s three-wheelers (auto-rickshaw etc) segment is very fragmented.

Talking about this, an oil marketing company official said that convincing the car owners to convert to clean fuel is a challenge. However, to overcome this headwind, the OMCs are asking the CNG kit manufacturers to do the marketing. Currently, converting a petrol vehicle to CNG costs the owner around Rs 42,000-45,000. However, doing this leads to sacrificing the boot storage of the car, as the CNG cylinder is installed there.

Also Read: India must begin transitioning to low carbon fuels right away, auto LPG is way forward

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