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CNG hike may pinch hole in PMPML commuters' pockets

With the cash–strapped Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited’s (PMPML) already in a financial soup, the proposed hike in CNG prices by the Maharashtra Natural Gas Limited (MNGL) is likely to add their fiscal burden.

MNGL is considering increasing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) prices, which will translate into a hike of Rs 15 to Rs 18 per kg in CNG rates in the city. With 575 PMPML buses running on CNG and further 660 new CNG buses being added to the fleet, the financial future of the transport body will take a hit.

Moreover, to offset the burden, if PMPML decides to hike bus fares PMPML commuters will feel the pinch in their pockets who are already reeling under the pressure of rising inflation.

Testing times ahead
MiD DAY tried to analyse the impact of this hike in terms of the financial burden it will impose on PMPML. Currently there are 575 PMPML buses running on CNG and a further 660 CNG buses will be added to the fleet soon. The daily consumption of CNG is 32,000 kilograms at the prevalent rate of Rs 47.575. When MiD DAY contacted a PMPML source, a shocking figure came to the fore. The source said approximately Rs 122 crore per year will be the total burden after the CNG price hike comes in to effect.

Help needed
To overcome this extra burden, PMPML will have to seek financial aid from both the corporations – Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC). In current scenario, it doesn’t look like there will be an immediate help given to PMPML by the corporations. So, the last option would be to hike bus fares. This will ultimately mean that commuters would have to bear the brunt.

CNG v/s Diesel 
PMPML pays an additional Rs 7 lakh for a new CNG bus in comparison to a diesel bus. The current rate of diesel for PMPML is Rs 54.20, while if the CNG prices were increased it would cost Rs 65 (current CNG rate Rs 47 + approximate CNG price Rs 18 after hike). In this case, the average for both CNG and diesel buses works out to 4 per kilometres per kg/litre.

PMPML speak
PMPML joint managing director Pravin Ashtikar said, “If the CNG price is hiked, definitely there will be a financial burden upon us of more than Rs 100 crore. We have not yet decided how to tackle it, but yes we are working over it. Also, we have to now think twice about purchasing new buses, as we would have to consider whether CNG or diesel buses are cost effective.”

PMT Pravasi Manch president Jugal Rathi said, “We will not accept a fare hike in any circumstances and I hope the CNG hike doesn’t come through what with the elections round the corner.

Moreover, the state government should consider exempting public transport bodies from this CNG hike to provide relief to the commuters. Whereas if a hike does takes place, there would be a decrease in commuters and it would be hard to recover this so called extra financial burden.” 

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