Speakers at a discussion here on CNG’s impact on the environment and economy on Saturday said the government’s move to discourage the use of CNG in motor vehicles may bring the pollution hazard back to the city again.
“While CNG (compressed natural gas) use in New Delhi is mandatory, Dhaka is discouraging its use,” said Buet Professor Dr Md Ehsan while making his keynote presentation at the seminar at Cirdap Auditorium in the city.
Bangladesh CNG Station and Conversion Workshop Owners Association and Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) jointly organised the seminar, titled ‘Use of CNG: Environmental and Economic Impact on Bangladesh’.
Chairman of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Imdadul Haque, Petrobangla Director M Kamruzzaman, Prof Shamsul Alam, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) Executive Director Syeda Rizwana Hasan, World Bank consultant Dr Khalequzzaman and President of Bangladesh CNG Station and Conversion Workshop Owners Association Zakir Hossain Nayan spoke on the occasion. Bapa Vice President Firoz Ahmed presided.
Imdadul Haque said the present energy crisis has prompted the policymakers to discourage the use of CNG in motor vehicles. He said there is a need to frame a long-term policy by involving all stakeholders to make CNG and other business sustainable.
Kamruzzaman said once there was a perception at different levels that Bangladesh was floating on gas which has been proved wrong. “The main cause behind the current policy shift regarding the use of natural gas is that.”
Prof Shamsul Alam said if motor vehicles are restricted to use CNG, then all -- from businesspeople to the common man -- will be affected.
He blamed the government’s present policy to promote international oil companies instead of the state-owned companies in gas production. “Every policy is supportive to foreign companies, not the local ones,” Prof Alam said adding that this has increased the gas price.
Rizwana Hasan said though it is the fact that CNG station owners joined to the business to make money, this has saved the city from a dangerous situation.
She said once Dhaka was the second top polluted city after Mexico. After the introduction of CNG, the situation had improved. “But now again, it’s becoming the most polluted and dangerous city after Damascus.”
Dr Khalequzzaman said if the CNG is used in motor vehicles, the sulfur content comes down by 20 percent in the air. He said the World Bank framed an environment policy in which it pursues worldwide to reduce the air pollution.
A transport company owner, taking part in the open discussion of the seminar, alleged that 30 percent of his CNG-run buses have been converted into diesel-run ones again because of the increased CNG price.
“The maintenance cost of CNG-run vehicles is much higher than that of the diesel-run ones. So, we’ve returned diesel again following CNG price hike,” he said.