Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurating the state’s first CNG station in Dibrugarh on Saturday Credit: EastMojo image 

Tinsukia: In a bid to take Assam closer towards a pollution-free state, the first CNG station was inaugurated by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal at Chowkidingee in Dibrugarh on Saturday. The move will pave the way for vehicle owners of this upper Assam town to shift to cleaner fuel.

Addressing the gathering, Sonowal said the idea is to make Assam a pollution-free Assam.

“Prime minister Narendra Modi launched Swachh Bharat Mission after coming to power in 2014 with an aim to make the country pollution-free. The commitment of the PM has moved the entire countrymen which turned the mission into a jan andolan,” said Sonowal, adding, “Now, it’s time to put a check on pollution emitted by vehicles. Every state has introduced electric vehicles — including buses and auto-rickshaws, and are focusing on vehicles plying on CNG to reduce pollution. This is our first step in that right direction.”

“CNG stations will be commissioned in every district of the state very soon to make cleaner and cheaper fuel available across the length and breadth of Assam,” he added.

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“CNG is beneficial in two ways — socially and financially. Cleaner fuel will reduce pollution by putting brakes on smoke emitted by vehicles, and being cheaper in comparison to petrol and diesel, it will save money too,” Sonowal said.

This CNG station — the master station — is completely owned and operated by the Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL) and has production facility, besides a unit to dispense the fuel.

Talking to EastMojo, AGCL managing director Aditya Kumar Sharma said, “The present capacity of this mother station is to refuel up to 400 auto-rickshaws every day.”

“CNG is one-third cheaper in comparison to diesel and petrol. For instance, in place of diesel worth Rs 100, one will need to spend CNG worth about Rs 66 or 67 to get the same kind of mileage,” said Sharma, adding, “We have the provision to supply CNG to other locations in cascades. Hence, we are planning to set up daughter stations in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh.”

“We are looking for consumer-oriented policy support from the government of Assam. The government can provide concession in VAT component to be levied on CNG and also waive off state component of GST for new auto-rickshaws fitted with CNG kits for a couple of years, beside other measures,” Sharma added.

For the success of CNG network, a sufficiently large automobile population is required. Dibrugarh has a comparatively thin automobile population. “We shall soon submit a proposal to transport department to come out with some directives to ensure auto-rickshaws convert from petrol/diesel to CNG,” he said.

The commissioning of the CNG station will pave the way for local entrepreneurs to get into the business of retrofitting of kits, Sharma added.

According to sources, the CNG will be sold at Rs 50 per kg.

AGCL is using its existing Dibrugarh town distribution network, used for supply of pipeline gas to household, to supply gas at the mother station. The mother station will compress it into CNG, sources said.

“The foundation stone of this CNG station was laid in November 2017 and was supposed to be completed within six months but it took much more time than expected,” the sources added.

Union minister of state for food processing industries Rameswar Teli, state minister of industries, commerce & transport Chandra Mohan Patowary, chairman of AGCL Bolin Chetia, chairman of ASTC Ashok Kr Bhattarai and MD of AGCL Aditya Kumar Sharma, besides others, were present on the occasion.

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