KARACHI: The government is planning to move a summary to the cabinet to discourage consumption of compressed natural gas (CNG) by private cars and encourage its usage in public transport, especially big buses, a minister says.
“The government is considering restricting consumption of CNG by private cars simply because car owners can afford petrol and diesel,” Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Dr Asim Hussain said.
At the same time, CNG usage would be promoted in public transport vehicles in order to offer cheaper fares to the people, he said while talking to The Express Tribune over phone on Thursday.
Hussain also disclosed that the ministry would ask the cabinet to bar car companies from fitting CNG kits in private vehicles at their manufacturing facilities.
Supporting the minister’s point, Petroleum Secretary Ejaz Chaudhry said the government aimed to impose a ban on CNG usage in all kinds of cars as vehicle owners could afford petrol and diesel, though they were expensive.
“Right now, we are in initial stages because we have to first take important stakeholders into confidence including the Ministry of Industries,” Chaudhry said.
He underscored the need for reducing the difference between prices of CNG and other fuels. The huge difference between petrol and diesel and CNG rates has spurred people to switch to CNG.
Replying to a question, he said the government may also have to ban import of CNG cylinders as a next step because it would be unfair if CNG kits were only banned in new cars manufactured in the country.
“At the same time, I want to assure people that the government is not against the CNG sector, but people also need to realise that the country faces gas shortage and they have to be economical,” he said. “CNG is a very important sector and we do not want to discourage it.”
However, the CNG filling station operators may react strongly to this move. Interestingly, some auto industry officials are of the view that company-fitted CNG kits adversely affected their business.
CNG has a share of around 8 per cent in total gas consumption. Though this is a small percentage, analysts warn that its growth has been phenomenal over the last few years and it may create problems for the government because of acute gas shortages.
Public transport vehicles started converting to CNG a few years ago and today a large number of small and big buses are running on this cheaper fuel.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2011.
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