The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has now imposed complete ban on filling Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in public transport wagons while this prohibition will not be applicable on vehicles with CNG cylinder fitted on roofs. 

Following the tragic incident of a school van gas cylinder explosion in Gujrat, the Ogra on May 29 sought from the federal and provincial governments an immediate ban on use of compressed natural gas fuel in public transport vehicles (PSVs) to prevent deadly accidents in future. The Ogra, while stepping forward from its stance of imposing a complete ban on CNG filling in PSVs, has now imposed a ban on filling CNG in public transport wagons only.

Officials at Ogra said that the CNG cylinder fitted beneath the seats in public transport is illegal while this ban would not apply on vehicles with CNG cylinder fitted on roofs. They said the regulatory authority has dispatched letters to all chief secretaries and chief commissioner Islamabad regarding imposition of ban on filling CNG in wagons.

They also said raiding parties of Ogra after finding violation of ban has disconnected gas connections of 22 CNG filling stations. Ogra has also cancelled marketing licenses of two CNG stations situated in Hyderabad (Sindh).  It was also learnt that Ogra teams have so far raided in Khoshab, Mianwali, Jhang, Chanute and Sargodha while Ogra teams would soon start raids in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and interior Sindh as well. When contacted, senior leader of All Pakistan CNG Association Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha said CNG filling in wagons is not illegal and is going on in accordance to Ogra rules 1992. He, however, deplored that in the presence of CNG rules imposition of such ban is out of understanding while no new rule or law introduced so far. He said if there is any rule or law the authority should tell us.

"We had sought response from the ministry and Ogra regarding imposition of this ban but no explanation made so far. It is worthwhile to mention that in its letter, the OGRA informed the petroleum secretary that "CNG fire-related accidents are on the rise despite the fact that extensive time and energy has been spent on formulation of the standard operating procedures (SoPs). The chief justice of the Lahore High Court has taken serious notice of loss of precious lives and property in such accidents and that case is pending with the court."

The letter further said, "The authority vide its various letters addressed to the Petroleum and Natural Resources secretary, chief secretaries (transport), inspector generals of police and a recent letter dated May, 10 had been requested to immediately take action against the uncertified public service vehicles (PSVs) with CNG cylinder installed beneath the seats and those installed with uncertified CNG kits and fittings. No worthwhile results of this exercise have been achieved and the recent incident of Gujrat is an eye opener for all stakeholders."

It added, "It is therefore proposed that all the regional transport authorities (RTAs) may be requested to launch a massive campaign against PSVs plying on roads in collaboration with National Highway and Motorway Police and that all unauthorised/uncertified vehicles with CNG cylinders fitted beneath seats/passengers compartments be sealed."