Mahanagar Gas Limited (MGL), one of India’s leading Natural Gas Distribution companies, is a joint venture between GAIL (India) Ltd and BGAPH (a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell Plc). MGL provides Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuel for almost half a million vehicles in Mumbai, Thane, Mira-Bhayander, Navi Mumbai and beyond, through a network of 190 CNG stations using more than 1,000 dispensers. Expansion plans are big.
According to a report by Times of India, the number of private cars running on CNG in Mumbai has more than doubled in just three years and public transport vehicles have risen by 30%. MGL statistics reportedly show private NGV numbers have grown from around 100,000 to 220,000. Public transport vehicles rose from 220,000 in October 2013 to 290,000 this year.
That equates to a reduction of about 1,300 kg/day in vehicle pollutants. Despite that, Mumbai’s air is worsening, prompting MGL to push harder for increased adoption of natural gas fuel. The company’s five year plan calls for fuel outlets to grow to “about 330 CNG stations, and expand the steel pipeline network to around 600 kms”. It also aims to achieve uninterrupted gas supply. 80 stations will be added in coming months.
MGL managing director Rajeev Mathur is realistic about the primary motivation for switching to CNG — economic benefit. The environmental benefits are important and valued, but somewhat incidental. CNG is cheaper than petrol by 44% and diesel by 33%. A State incentive scheme also increases the economic benefit of owning an NGV with a reported minimum 4% rebate on taxes for those registering cars run on CNG.
The city of Mumbai has proposed all public transport vehicles, including about 30,000 diesel-powered taxis, switch to cleaner burning alternative fuels. MGL plans to meet that scaled-up demand through proactive expansion planning. “As the government is committed to limiting CO2 emissions, natural gas will have to be used in much larger manner, as opposed to coal or crude oil,” Dr. Mathur said in a recent interview.