Auto LPG in India
Today, Auto LPG is available in more than 350 Cities with a network of close to 900 Stations across the country, which makes it the most widely available alternate fuel. This has encouraged an increasing number of vehicle owners to convert to Auto LPG, an economical & environment friendly fuel, paving way for India to become one of the leading Auto LPG markets of the world in the next few years.
Similarly Chennai & Pune have effectively introduced auto LPG with about 25 & 13 LPG filling stations respectively and with over 10,000 auto rickshaws already running on Auto LPG in Pune.
Low costs of infrastructure and conversion, easy availability, versatility of use and of course and an impeccable safety record makes Auto LPG a viable, unadulterable, environment friendly alternative auto fuel in India.
Most of the leading vehicle manufacturers of the country now offer Factory Fitted LPG Variants. Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motors, Tata Motors, General Motors, Bajaj Auto etc have all launched their best selling models in LPG Variants. Some of the popular OE offered LPG vehicles are Maruti Wagon R, Hyundai Accent LPG, Santro, General Motors Spark, Tata Motors Xeta and Maruti Omni and 800 cc .
Use of LPG as an auto fuel was permitted in 2000 through an amendment in the motor vehicles act, by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Setting up of refueling infrastructure started subsequently, in 2001 after a notification by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Since then, the government, aided by Hon’ble Supreme Court directive, has made serious efforts in curbing air pollution in various cities through the mandatory introduction of gaseous fuels in critically polluted cities and, though much is yet to be done, has had significant success, particularly in cities like Bangalore, by using Auto LPG.
State wise measures
Several Indian cities including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, made use of fiscal measures to address the problem of vehicular pollution.
Though still very nascent these new policy initiatives have begun to take roots. These fiscal measures can enable rapid introduction of clean fuels like LPG and create fiscal incentives. The cities that have taken the lead in this regard include Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Bangalore and Hyderabad. These cities have evolved state, city specific models of policy framework. Key focus of these fiscal measures are clean fuels, disincentives for older vehicles; and creation of dedicated fund from taxes on polluting fuels to pay for pollution control efforts.
Significant success has been achieved in Bangalore, where LPG was made mandatory in three wheelers. With about 40 filling stations, many with twin dispensers, Bangalore now serves more than 75,000 LPG auto rickshaws and is one the most successful auto LPG markets in the country.
Apart from non-fiscal incentives, Bangalore put in fiscal measures to give a thrust to the LPG conversion in the city.
i. Green tax
Bangalore introduced a Green tax that is imposed on the older vehicles. Introduced on April 1, 2002, tax schemes are different for transport and personal vehicles. Transport vehicles that are more than 7 years old pay the green tax at the rate of Rs. 200 at the time of the annual renewal of their permits. Two-wheelers and cars that are more than 15 years old are taxed at the rate of Rs.250 and Rs.500 respectively at the time of the renewal of their registration after 15 years from the date of purchase and first registration.
ii. Fiscal incentive for LPG conversion
Bangalore has launched one of the largest LPG three-wheeler programmes, one of the key elements being fiscal incentive for conversion. City government has offered a subsidy of around Rs 2000 to three-wheeler owners to help bear the cost of conversion. Nearly 75,000 auto rickshaws have already converted to LPG.
Similarly, Kolkata and Chandigarh have initiated firm efforts.
Kolkata High Court order mandates all 15 year old public vehicles to be replaced on or before July 31 this year. Out of 32,000 autorickshaws plying on the streets of Kolkata and its suburbs, 4000 have converted to LPG. The high court had earlier set December 31 as the deadline for removing these auto rickshaws, but later extended it to July 31. Auto emissions account for over 60% of the city’s air pollution and close to 50% of the city’s residents suffer from major respiratory disorders. Carcinogenic benzene levels in 2006-07, were found to be as high as 36 ug/cum, much higher than Delhi, which has a larger vehicle population. This is against an average limit of 5 ug/cum, specified by the National Draft Ambient Air Standard.
Starting September 1, 2009, the Union Territory of Chandigarh shall allow only LPG 3 wheelers to ply on its roads. Chandigarh has more than 2,000 autorickshaws running on its roads and almost an qual number of them come to the city from its satellite towns of Mohali and Panchkula.