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Swift switch to LPG
- 43 conversion centres to be set up by April

In anticipation of an early Supreme Court directive on LPG engines to be installed in petrol-run vehicles, the state government has taken the initiative to build up the infrastructure for the conversion process, including setting up LPG-filling centres in the city and important towns.

The apex court sought a report from the state government last year on its plans to switch over from petrol to LPG to reduce air pollution. The plan was submitted on August 16 this year.

It is proposed that the conversion be undertaken in a phased manner. Vehicles 12 years old will be given a year’s time. Older vehicles will get six months.

As LPG is not suitable for diesel-run vehicles, the government proposes initially to make the engine LPG compatible. Vehicles may have a dual fuel system, too. The proposal is being considered by the apex court. According to state transport department officers, the court directive may come in a month or two.

Realising that there will be impediments to the conversion process, chief secretary S.N. Roy held a meeting with officers of four major oil companies — Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum (HP), Bharat Petroleum (BP) and IBP — last week and directed them to take immediate action to set up LPG-filling centres.

Initially, 43 centres will be set up in and around the city by April next year. Later, the service will be extended to other high-traffic areas. A joint secretary from the transport department, Prashant, has been appointed the nodal officer to monitor the work.

“Setting up an LPG-filling centre is not as easy as opening a petrol station. Additional fire prevention steps have to be taken in accordance with the Indian Explosives Act. We have identified 43 spots as LPG-filling centres, which will be constructed by three major oil firms. We have taken all steps to complete construction within the deadline,’’ said Ramalesh Das, general manager of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and coordinator for all the oil companies.

Construction of 14 LPG-filling centres of the IOC and two each of HP and BP is in progress, of which the station on Prince Anwar Shah Road is almost ready and will start functioning within a fortnight. Das on Tuesday held a meeting with officers of the oil firms and prepared a blueprint for speedy construction of LPG-filling centres.

“We are preparing a map to locate LPG-filling centres in the city and elsewhere in Bengal. Initially, LPG stations will be installed in the existing petrol stations where adequate space is available, in conformation with the safety measures. There is no scarcity of LPG, but it will take time to set up pumps,’’ Das said.

“Over 600,000 vehicles that ply in the city will have to be converted to LPG from petrol or diesel. After enforcing the Supreme Court directives, if we cannot ensure smooth supply of LPG, there will be a massive chaos that can lead to a law-and-order problem. So, we have asked the oil companies to speed up work,’’ Prashant said. There are 674 petrol pumps in the city, of which 208 are owned by IOC.

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