All vehicles in Tripura will convert to CNG by 31st March

Vol 10, PW 12 (05 Oct 06) People & Policy

Gas-rich Tripura has set a 31st March 2007 deadline for all local vehicles to begin using natural gas as fuel instead of petrol or diesel.

This will make Tripura, also in Indias volatile northeast, the first state in India to compulsorily convert all vehicles to CNG. Some 20,000 auto rickshaws in the state capital Agartala and other towns as well as 3000 cars and buses across the state are being converted to CNG.

After 31st March, no vehicles registered in Tripura will be allowed to use any other fuel but CNG, transport minister Manik Dey tells PETROWATCH. Dey stresses that outside vehicles entering Tripura would not be compelled to use CNG.

Unlike other Indian states, which live in a quasi-perennial state of acute gas shortage and rising demand, Tripura has much gas but poor demand, due to low urbanisation and industrialisation. Transporting gas to other states is a logistical nightmare because large parts of Tripura are mountainous and forested.

An easy way to transport the gas to demand centres in eastern and northern India would be by pipeline through Bangladesh, but Dhaka refuses transit. Faced with this gas glut, the state government has hit upon the idea of tapping all possible potential local demand.

"We have enough gas here and hardly any utilisation, adds state transport secretary Arvind Guha. We must find ways to use as much gas here as possible and the transport sector is the best to start with.

GAIL has been implementing this CNG conversion project since mid-June. CNG stations are first being set up in Agartala and the major towns of Udaipur and Dharmnagar will be covered in the second phase.

CNG is cheap and environment-friendly, adds transport minister Dey. Its cost is almost one-third the price of petrol.

He adds that within the next four months the entire state would be covered with CNG stations. Tripura Natural Gas Corporation a joint venture between GAIL and the state government is already supplying piped natural gas to households in Agartala and planning a similar network in other towns of the state.