A clogged shipping channel is preventing the first vessel to berth at the Rs. 4, 200–crore LNG terminal in Kochi. The ship with natural gas from Ras Gas, Qatar, is waiting in the outer channel since early Sunday morning and may not be able to berth for at least the next two days. Dredging operations are on to increase the channel depth, which was severely reduced after incessant rains.

Sources said the Port Trust was making every effort to see the channel depth increased as quickly as possible. The LNG terminal in Kochi was planned along with the Dahej facility in 1998 and the Gujarat terminal was commissioned in 2004. The clogged channel appears to be the last hurdle before the commissioning of the Kochi terminal.

The five-million-tonne capacity terminal will meet the energy needs of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Gas Authority of India has been roped in to lay the pipeline for gas distribution. The Kochi-Mangalore pipeline by GAIL, being built at a cost of Rs. 3,400 crore, is one of the biggest investments in infrastructure in the southern part of the country.

The pipeline will pass through Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod districts.

The GAIL has completed the first phase of the pipeline in Kochi for gas distribution to industrial consumers. It has also finalised plans to distribute gas by road.

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