March 11: The residents of the city will be able to breathe a little easy. A self-help group has taken the initiative to run 18 autorickshaws on compressed natural gas on an experimental basis by this month-end.
Each vehicle, which will cost Rs 1.15 lakh, is expected to be cost-effective and environment-friendly.
The man behind the project, Haren Boro, who is also councillor of ward 24, said the self-help group, Janajati Tribal Sangha, has tied up with Shree Automobiles — an authorised dealer of Bajaj Auto Ltd, SBI and Assam Pakritik Taral Gas Agency to implement this scheme.
Autorickshaws run on compressed natural gas (CNG) in some of the cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Agra and Lucknow.
In the first phase, 18 such autorickshaws will be distributed among unemployed educated youths of Dispur Kachari Basti.
“If this experiment succeeds, we will provide assistance to unemployed youths in other areas of the city to procure CNG-run autorickshaws. This will serve a twin purpose. While they will be self-reliant, the environment, too, will be protected from pollution,” Boro said.
According to a memorandum of understanding signed with Assam Pakritik Taral Gas Agency, Assam Gas Company Limited will provide gas to the agency which it compresses at its Duliajan plant in Dibrugarh district. The plant has a capacity to produce 1,500 kg CNG per day. The agency’s promoter, Sashi Majumdar, said they would be able to provide CNG at around Rs 22 per kg.
Bajaj Auto has supplied CNG-run autorickshaws to many cities including Delhi as replacement for older vehicles running on petrol or diesel. “The vehicles will be provided by Shree Automobiles and SBI will offer loans to the youths while the gas agency will provide CNG for the vehicles,” Boro said.
“Since the city is yet to have a CNG refill station, we will supply 8-kg CNG cylinders to the Sangha directly,” Majumdar said.
The transport cost will be much reduced as 1 kg CNG will enable each autorickshaw to travel a distance of 35 km. Majumdar said he had plans to pursue existing autorickshaw drivers to switch over to CNG. “We are going to hold a meeting with autorickshaw associations of the city soon. Our objective is to promote CNG as a fuel for vehicles as it is cheaper and safer compared to diesel or petrol,” Majumdar said.
He said the Centre for Energy of IIT Guwahati, has agreed to provide technical assistance for CNG retrofitment (in other words, fit the autos with a component or accessory which was not fitted during manufacture) in conventional petrol and diesel engines.
Even the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) is toying with the idea to operate CNG-run buses in the city.
“Then cost of fuel can be saved up to 30 per cent,” Majumdar, who is in touch with the ASTC, said.
The Taral Gas Agency is planning to open CNG outlets in the city in association with big retailers like Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
“We have already held preliminary discussions with their officials and waiting for their decision,” he said.
If implemented it will be a great boon for the city.