In a bid to curb the rising pollution levels in India, the government has taken an initiative to start plying CNG-powered two-wheelers. In a press conference yesterday, Prakash Javadekar (Union environment minister) and Dharmendra Pradhan (petroleum minister) started the project with 10 two-wheelers (scooters) retro-fitted with CNG kits. 40 more such vehicles will start plying in New Delhi within a month. These vehicles will be closely monitored to record their emission levels as well as operating costs and efficiency.
There are two cylinders in this kit and each has a capacity of 1kg. According to the claims, these CNG-run scooters will travel 120km before needing a refuel and obviously will be more affordable to run than a conventional petrol-powered vehicle. Tests conducted on these ARAI-certified vehicles also shows that they emit 75 per cent less hydrocarbons and 20 per cent less CO2. Adopting this technology on a widespread basis could help curb pollution to a great extent given that out of every 10 vehicles in India, seven are two-wheelers.
Javadekar gave a bug thumbs up to the project and said, "I promise a blank cheque for environment clearances to all gas projects if all environment norms are followed." In the meanwhile, Pradhan said that the country should adopt more of CNG-powered vehicles given they are less polluting and more environment-friendly. He also said that in India, only seven per cent of the entire vehicular population uses CNG/LPG while in developed nations, its 24 per cent. He said that the central government has requested the Delhi government to make the Bawana thermal project (runs on imported liquefied natural gas) operational as soon as possible so that more and more CNG stations can be set up.
These things aside, there is the question of infrastructure and how to accommodate the vehicles when they come in for a refuel. Given the limited number of CNG stations in the country as of now, this could become a challenge and mean possibly longer queues at these fuel pumps. This might eventually force users to resort to petrol-powered two-wheelers, defeating the purpose in the end. The plan may work if there are proper subsidies for these vehicles and more fuel pumps which supply CNG and cater exclusively to two-wheelers.
On a different note, Hero MotoCorp did showcase a diesel-powered two-wheeler concept a few years ago. However, given the sudden hostility towards diesel-fuelled vehicles, the project seems to have taken a backseat.