Autos spew foul fumes in Ranchi on Monday. (Hardeep Singh)
If Ranchi’s guardians have their way, the capital will soon say farewell to foul fumes.
To phase out polluting auto-rickshaws, driven by diesel or petrol, the district administration is seriously weighing its options to set up LPG stations in the city in association with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL).
Deputy commissioner K.K. Soan went into a huddle with transport department officials on Saturday to iron out various issues, including grounding auto-rickshaws that emit toxic fumes, to streamline Ranchi’s traffic machinery. To begin with, the district administration wishes to install three liquid petroleum bunks in HEC, Doranda and Ratu areas of the capital.
As many as 4,500 auto-rickshaws ply along various routes in the city and of these, 1,500-odd do not have valid permits. “The deputy commissioner has asked the traffic department to phase out autos without permits with immediate effect,” a district official said.
He maintained that the administration had started scouting for land to set up the LPG stations. “Initially, the plan is to come up with three-four bunks. The numbers will be increased gradually. Land is a problem in Ranchi, but we are trying to explore various options,” he added.
Deputy commissioner Soan could not be contacted for details on how they were planning to launch the LPG service and when because he was busy attending “back-to-back” meetings.
However, chief area manager (Jharkhand) of IOCL Uday Kumar told The Telegraph that they were indeed in talks with the district administration on the project, which was conceived long ago but was gaining momentum of late. “We already have four LPG stations in Jharkhand — two in Jamshedpur and one each in Dhanbad and Bokaro. We are hopeful that the project will take shape in the capital soon,” Kumar said.
He maintained that it would roughly take five-six months to launch the service. “Once we get confirmation on land, we will send the proposal to our headquarters, which in return will forward it to the Union government for clearance on explosives. So, the process will take some time,” the senior IOCL official said.
He also added that setting up of gas stations was a more expensive proposition compared to normal petrol bunks.
Kumar contended that the project would be a complete success in Jharkhand only if the government issues a statewide circular, banning petrol and diesel auto-rickshaws. “Let alone Ranchi, most autos in the other three cities that have LPG stations have not installed gas kits and continue to run on petrol or diesel. The cost of installation of the kit varies between Rs 12,000 and Rs 14,000. The transport department is yet to come out with a circular making LPG mandatory for public vehicles like in Delhi. We met department officials recently and have been assured that the same will happen soon,” he said.
In Dhanbad, more than 10,500 auto-rickshaws ferry commuters, but none have converted to LPG. Drivers argue that running on LPG would mean carrying lesser number of passengers and hence, bad business. Besides, procuring gas kits was again a costly affair, they pointed out. Similarly, 15,000 of these three-wheelers run across Jamshedpur, which has LPG stations on Dimna Road and Telco, but the vehicles only use petrol or diesel as fuel.