QUETTA, May 18: Hard pressed by soaring fuel prices, people in Blochistan, the main provider of domestic natural gas, are unable to get the relatively low-priced compressed natural gas. There are only three CNG stations in Quetta and one in Hub and these are unable to cope with the demand.

Like in other parts of the country, people in Quetta are fast adopting to alternative fuels, specially CNG.

For three CNG stations in the city, refuelling is a gigantic task; hundreds of cars, rickshaws and other vehicles are seen queued up outside CNG stations on Zarghoon Road, Airport Road and Sabzal Road from early in the morning till late night.

This situation is deepening the sense of deprivation among the local people. They are critical of the government’s gas policy for Balochistan.

“Balochistan produces CNG but we are the only ones who are not getting it. You can see CNG pumps mushrooming in other parts of the country. People there do not face any problem,” said Asif Baloch, a school van driver.

Power outage is also increasing the misery of people because CNG stations cannot work without electricity.

Rickshaw drivers are among the worst sufferers. Most of them had bought CNG-run rickshaws under the President’s Rozgar Scheme. They complain they have to waste hours, queuing up outside CNG stations and lose time they could use to earn their livelihoods.

Motorists here demand that the government should allow entrepreneurs to set up more CNG stations to overcome the shortage and lessen people’s sufferings. There is almost a virtual ban on setting up CNG stations in Balochistan.

“Over a dozen people had applied to set up CNG stations in Quetta,” one applicant told Dawn. He said that a new CNG station is ready but the authorities concerned were not providing connection, saying that the country was facing a gas shortage. But people’s frustration is compounded when they see 1,500 CNG stations in Punjab, 1,200 in Sindh and 900 in the NWFP. “We are also citizen of this country. Why is the government not allowing more CNG stations to be set up in Quetta and other parts of the province,” said Jamil Bukhari and Shoukat Ali who had recently installed CNG kits in their vehicles.

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