GAIL plans alternative route to link Mangalore with gas grid

Natural gas supply to industrial units in and around Kochi is expected to commence from March or April this year. GAIL India Limited, which laid the pipelines for distributing re-gasified liquefied natural gas, has pre-commissioned the pipeline network for the supply a month ago, B.C. Tripathi, Chairman and Managing Director of the company, a government of India undertaking, said.

At a press conference here after participating in a review meeting of government functionaries and stakeholders on Thursday, he said the work on the second phase of the pipeline network, connecting Kochi to Bangalore via Koottanad and from Koottanad to Mangalore was getting delayed due to extraneous reasons. The company had invested about Rs. 2,000 crore in Kerala for the project, having an outlay of Rs. 5,000 crore.

Of a total length of 500 km of pipeline, the company has got the right of use, the permission for laying pipeline through the land notified for the purpose, for about 300 km. The government was extending support to facilitate the execution of the work. The company has mobilised personnel as well as equipment at the required locations, but it was unable to execute the job due to opposition at certain places.

Only 5 per cent of the job has been done so far. The work needs to be expedited for which the cooperation of people and due support from authorities were necessary, he said. The completion of the pipe-laying work, originally scheduled for March 2013, will be delayed. It is expected to be over by the end of the year, he said. With the monsoon likely to set in by June, the work would have to be completed in a short duration.

Mr.Tripathi said the government had been apprised of the situation and the company would be forced to think of an alternative route to connect Mangalore with the gas grid. Accordingly, the pipeline from Bangalore would connect Mangalore, instead of the proposed Koottanad-Mangalore line. Such a scenario would deprive the northern districts of Kerala, such as Malappuram, Kozhikkode and Kasaragode of access to the natural gas network.

The pipelines are being laid at a minimum of 1 metre below the land and the land could be utilised for agricultural purposes. The compensation given to land owners had been raised, he said. The undersea pipeline proposed to be laid between Kochi and Kayamkulam, will be laid at one metre below the sea bed and will not have any impact on marine resources. He alleged that false propaganda on the pipeline network was harming the execution of the work.

Asked about the prospects of shale gas exploration in India, he said the Union government would have to announce a policy on it and then acquire technology for the exploration.

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