Natural gas can usher in industrial revolution in South India , says official

A meeting of various stakeholders of natural gas based projects, convened by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Saturday, urged the government to adopt suitable measures for maximum capacity utilisation of the LNG terminal here. Less than 10 per cent of the capacity of the 5 MMTPA terminal, set up by Petronet LNG Limited here, is currently being utilised.

“The Union government and the Kerala government should exempt the Kochi Petronet LNG from Customs duty and the Value Added Tax respectively to bring down the price of the LNG,” said an appeal adopted at the workshop.

Inaugurating the meeting, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, K.V. Thomas, underlined the need for a national policy on LNG. The pricing and other issues needed to be examined with a view to providing optimum benefits to industries and people. Regular supply of gas for domestic purposes under the City Gas project would be able to give the much needed relief to LPG consumers.

Rational policy

M.P. Sukumaran Nair, representative of Centre for Green Technology and Management, called for a rational pricing policy for LNG. He advocated a system of centralised pooling of gas. The price of LNG in Kochi could be brought to half the current value if such a procedure is followed.

Recalling that the Kochi LNG terminal was originally planned to go on stream by 2003, he said the State would have lost about Rs.75,000 crore over the past decade due to the delay in the commissioning of the project. He also called for formation of a natural gas users’ forum.

Former minister S.Sarma said the NTPC’s unwillingness to make a shift to LNG fuel was a major handicap in its pursuit for maximum capacity utilisation of Kochi LNG terminal. The price of gas provided in Kochi should be on par with that offered at Dahej in Gujarat where Petronet LNG had set up its first terminal.

K.P.Ramesh, senior official of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), said natural gas is capable of ushering in an industrial revolution in the entire South India if the pipeline connectivity is established. GAIL had been working on the project to lay the Kochi-Koottanad-Bangalore and Koottanad-Mangalore pipelines, but opposition from people and political parties had hindered its progress. GAIL had experienced trouble in laying pipelines even in government owned land, he said.

K.Chandran Pillai, former MP; Vijayan Pillai, AITUC leader; and representatives of various industrial units such as FACT and BSES spoke.

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