The Initiative for Vehicles Running on Clean Energy Fuel
In 1998, the Honorable Supreme Court of India issued orders to take necessary actions to curb air pollution in Delhi. March 31, 2001 was set as the deadline for replacing all pre-1990 auto rickshaws and taxis with new vehicles using clean fuels, in other words CNG.
CNG stands for Compressed Natural Gas. It is nothing but natural gas stored under high pressure. CNG's various properties like mixing easily with air, high inflammable temperature, lower emissions of greenhouse gases when burned, lower price than petrol or diesel, etc. made it the alternative fuel of choice. Before CNG made its debut in 2001, Delhi was already experimenting with various other fuels, but with little success.
Unlike cities in Europe and the US, 60% of the vehicular traffic in Delhi was two wheelers. Auto-rickshaws and public buses were the major forms of public transportation system. Research was carried out and it was decided that the public buses and auto-rickshaws should be installed with newer engines that ran on CNG or be replaced by newer vehicles before the deadline of March 31, 2001-- for a significant reduction in air pollution in a short span of time.
This was easier said than done because engines that ran on CNG cost more than the regular ones, and most of the owners of auto-rickshaws came from middle-class families who could not afford a new vehicle. With great support from the government, eventually most of the buses and auto rickshaws were upgraded or replaced before the deadline.