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Monday, 24 April, 2000, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Gas for Bangladesh's rickshaws

Pollution levels on Bangladesh streets are dangerously high
By the BBC's Victoria Dale-Jones

Air pollution in Bangladesh is being tackled by targetting one of the worst culprits - the auto rickshaw.

The government wants drivers to switch from using petrol or diesel to one of the country's most plentiful natural resources - gas.

For some time the government has been discussing how to banish the belching smoke which accompanies one of Bangladesh's most popular forms of transport.

Now Environment Secretary Marghub Murshed has come up with a plan.

He wants to persuade the country's 50,000 rickshaw drivers to convert their vehicles to run on compressed natural gas.

Canadian support

As well as improving air quality, gas would be considerably cheaper as it is a huge natural resource in Bangladesh.

The project has the support of the Canadian International Development Agency, which is carrying out a similar conversion programme in Pakistan.

It is providing a grant of $CDN 10m, but this money cannot possibly cover the estimated 20,000 taka it will cost to convert each rickshaw.

Mr Murshed accepts that unless the government provides a cash incentive, very few rickshaw drivers will convert.

And he is keen to see a good take-up rate.

Without the support of rickshaw drivers, a further plan to ban all new petrol-powered rickshaws by 2003 could be very difficult to enforce.

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09 Oct 98 | South Asia
Delhi chokes under pollution
02 Oct 98 | South Asia
The 'phat-phats' are no more
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