Delhi govt to move SC for restoring CNG quota to reduce price

To reduce price of CNG, Delhi government approached Supreme Court to challenge Centre`s cut in allocation of cheaper domestic natural gas to national capital following an order by Gujarat High Court.

New Delhi: In a bid to reduce price of CNG, the Delhi government on Monday decided to approach the Supreme Court to challenge Centre`s cut in allocation of cheaper domestic natural gas to the national capital following an order by the Gujarat High Court.
Following a Gujarat High Court order, the Centre had ordered all of domestically available natural gas for city gas projects to be equitably distributed among all the companies in the country than convert the fuel into compressed natural gas (CNG) for sale to automobiles.

Prior to this, cheaper domestic gas was largely available to firms retailing CNG in Delhi and Mumbai.

"We want restoration of Delhi`s quota of CNG allocation under the administered price mechanism which was reduced by the Centre to implement the Gujarat High Court," a Delhi Government official said.

He said talks are on with the Indraprastha Gas Limited to find a way out to cut prices of CNG that fuels public transport on Delhi roads.

The CNG prices were hiked by a steep Rs 4.50 per kg on December 26, two days before Arvind Kejriwal assumed power. The move was questioned by Kejriwal and he had promised to examine ways to cut the rates.

After hike in CNG prices, Indraprastha Gas Ltd, which supplies CNG in Delhi, had said rate increase was forced by court orders that led to cut in allocation of cheaper domestic natural gas to it. Delhi Government has a five per cent stake in IGL.

IGL had said its APM (cheaper domestic) gas allocation was reduced from 23,42,000 cubic meters per day to 22,28,000 cubic meters a day.

The official said Delhi Government feels the Centre has failed to ensure adequate supply of CNG for Delhi transport sector claiming it was a sort of a contempt of the Supreme Court`s 2002 judgement.

"The state government will file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court appealing that Delhi`s share of CNG supply should be fixed like Mumbai and Ahmedabad," the official said.

The official said the Supreme Court in its judgement in MC Mehta case in 2002 had stated that because of pollution, Delhi and Maharashtra governments should give priority to CNG in transport sector.

"Subsequently, Delhi and Maharashtra were getting a share of CNG for transport sector though it was not proportional. Then an NGO approached Gujarat High Court and the court ruled that Ahmedabad should also get CNG. So from two, it got divided between Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

"Maharashtra government too went to the Mumbai High court which said the share of Maharashtra should be preserved. So the share of Delhi kept coming down subsequently," added the official.

As Mumbai and Ahmedabad have secured their share of CNG supply, share of Delhi has gone down drastically, the official said.

Keeping all these factors in mind, Delhi government has decided to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court in the matter that the right`s of Delhi should be preserved in the same manner as has been done for Mumbai and Ahmedabad, said the official.

The Delhi Contract Bus Association had also approached the Delhi High Court seeking a direction not to slash allocation and supply of domestic gas to the city. Delhi Government counsel in his submission had expressed apprehension that reduction in quota will lead to further rise in price
The official said the government decided to approach the Supreme Court to get relief.

"After studying the entire matter and aggrieved by the Centre`s order to raise the CNG prices which automatically have a cascading effect, the government feels Centre`s decision to raise the CNG prices was discriminatory and contempt of the court judgement," said the official.