Fuel tank duel

Fuel tank duel the move to get Bangalore's autorikshaws to install liquefied petroleum gas (lpg) retrofitted tanks has run into trouble. Auto drivers and oil companies seem to have reached a stalemate over the provision of gas stations. The former say they are ready to install these tanks but there aren't enough gas stations, while the latter argue they will open more stations only after adequate number of autos have converted. Most autos use the changeable 5.5 kilogramme (kg) lpg cylinders, meant for domestic purposes. Amid this tussle, the Transport Department's (td's) deadline for autos registered from April 1999 onwards to make the switch expired on March 18, 2005; the deadline for autos of all models is July 2006.

Of the 73,000 public autos in the city, only 16,422 had retrofitted tanks as of March 2005. The rest used the cylinders; very few ran on petrol. The tanks are permanently installed beneath the drivers' seat while the cylinders have to be replaced when they get empty. Someshekar R, president of Bangalore Auto and Taxi Drivers Association, complains that due to the lack of gas stations, "at present the waiting time to get a refill is three-four hours'. There are 13 refilling centres in the city, but only four are centrally located. The rest are in areas not frequented by autos. "We had a meeting with officials of oil companies. They say there is low demand and want all autos to be converted