At a time when India is dithering over the move to switch to clean fuels, our neighbours seem to be pulling all stops to reduce vehicular emissions. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh are going all out to expedite the process of moving towards compressed natural gas (CNG). Pakistan has even decided to cut its imports of five million tonnes of diesel, which costs the country more than US $700 million.
In Bangladesh, the department of environment (DOE) in collaboration with the Bangladesh environmental management project (BEMP) has started converting two-stroke autorickshaws to CNG fuel. This move, they hope, will reduce emissions from vehicles by up to 70 per cent. The Bangladesh government is even cutting taxes from vehicles that use CNG to promote the fuel.
On June 3, the environment and forests secretary, Syed Marghub Morshed, inaugurated the first CNG-converted 2-stroke autorickshaw. There are now five CNG filling stations in Dhaka, and five more will be added by the end of this year.
Moreover, finance minister Sams Kibria, in his budget speech, proposed to withdraw all taxes and duties including the value added tax (VAT) from double-decker buses in Bangladesh that run on CNG. He also proposed to withdraw all other taxes except the mandatory 5 per cent customs duty on buses with forty or more seats using CNG as fuel.
Pakistan is also going the CNG way in full steam. The federal government, on June 22, decided to launch the second phase of the introduction of CNG, in which vehicles using diesel fuel would be converted to CNG.
At present around 90,000 cars, small pick-ups and petrol jeeps have been converted to CNG. These 90,000 vehicles are consuming around 110,000 tonnes of gasoline per year. There are already 181 CNG stations in the country, of which 42 are in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.