The Central Government has decided to set up the 1,656-km North-East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid at a cost of Rs.9,265 crore to connect Guwahati (Assam) to major cities in the North East region to enable the supply of piped cooking gas (PNG) to households and CNG to automobiles, besides fuel to industry to boost industrial growth in the region.
The grid would connect Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. The cities to be connected to the grid include Itanagar, Dimapur, Kohima, Imphal, Aizwal, Agartala, Shillong, Silchar, Gangtok, and Numaligarh.
The main source of the natural gas for distribution in the entire northeast would be through the 750 km long pipeline, being constructed by Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) to bring natural gas from Barauni to Guwahati, as part of the Rs.12,940 crore Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra Pipeline (JHBDPL) project ( also known as the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project). This pipeline will be connected to the North-East via the Indradhanush grid.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the project on 9 February, 2019 during his visit to Assam. The project is expected to be completed in 5 years and it is considered as a significant step towards achieving the central government’s “Hydrocarbon Vision 2030” for the North-East. The depots will be constructed in all the states where the natural gas is proposed to be distributed, after which connections in households will be done. The work distribution in households will be undertaken by a separate company after the groundwork for the natural gas pipeline is completed by “Indradhanush Gas Grid Ltd” (IGGL). The process of land acquisition process for the project has begun under the Petroleum & Mineral Pipelines Act, 1962.
The project will be implemented by the IGGL, a joint venture company of Indian Oil Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, GAIL, Oil India and Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. The joint venture was incorporated in August 2018 to develop and operate a natural gas pipeline grid in the North-East.
Since in absence of anchor customers, the Rs.9,265 crore project was not economically viable, the Government approved ‘Viability Gap Funding’ (VGF) worth Rs 5559 crore to set up the grid. The VGF would be capped at 60 per cent of the estimated cost of the project and would not be linked with upward capital cost variation.
This is for the second time the pipeline project is being funded by the Government. In 2016, the government had provided a capital grant of Rs.5,176 crore (40% of the project cost) to the 2,655-km JHBDPL gas pipeline project, which being executed by GAIL. All other pipelines in the country have been funded by public or private sector companies.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval to the project on January 8, 2020. The funding support to the gas grid is a part of a broader goal of the government to raise the share of natural gas in the country’s energy mix to 15% by 2030 from current 6.2%.
“About 20% of India’s natural gas production comes from the North-East. That is out of about 75 million standard cubic meters per day of gas output, 15 Million Metric Standard Cubic Meter per Day(MMSCMD) comes from North East. At present Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura have established gas production potential while there are possibilities for the same in Nagaland and Manipur.
The government has envisaged developing the National Gas Grid. At present, about 16,788 km natural gas pipeline is operational and about 14,239 km gas pipelines are being developed to increase the availability of natural gas across the country.
The Government aims to bring in a gas-based economy and has been taking steps to enhance domestic gas production and enable expeditious development of gas infrastructure including pipelines, city gas distribution networks and re-gasified liquefied natural gas terminals and development of a gas market by giving access to gas infrastructure.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]
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