Vehicle owners forced to shell out more to get cylinders tested in other States
The absence of hydro-testing centres in the State to inspect and issue safety certificate every three years to CNG cylinders of automobiles has left the owners of CNG-run vehicles a disappointed lot.
CNG-equipped autorickshaws and cars made their foray into Kochi and subsequently to other districts three years ago. However, due to the non availability of hydro-testing centres, where the cylinders can be tested for less than ₹2,000, the cylinders are being taken in bulk to other States, tested and brought back. This entails an expense of approximately ₹4,000, which many, especially autorickshaw drivers, find unaffordable, it is learnt.
The safety inspection in centres approved by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) is mandatory every three years as per Gas Cylinder Rules 2004.
“Difficulty in obtaining 1.50 acres of land, the real estate cost for each testing centre, and the additional expense on equipment is keeping investors away,” said Meleth Radhakrishnan, patron, All Kerala Federation of Petroleum Traders. “The State already has over 4,000 CNG-run vehicles, including over a dozen buses, mainly in Ernakulam district,” he said.
In addition, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is readying plans to convert 3,000 buses to CNG, to rein in operational expenses. Moreover, CNG retail outlets were getting ready in Thrissur, Malappuram and Kozhikode, said Mr. Radhakrishnan.
“The testing frequency of CNG cylinders was brought down from 10 years to five years, and now to three years,” said Mathew Joshua, a dealer selling CNG-run passenger and cargo autorickshaws. “For now, it would be ideal if the testing period is temporarily extended to five years due to the pandemic situation. On its part, the government could ready a testing centre or more in the State so that cylinders do not have to be sent to other States for testing,” he said.
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