Bench orders notice to Petroleum Ministry and GAIL India

A city advocate has filed a petition in public interest in the Madras High Court for a direction to GAIL India, New Delhi, to implement the Kochi-Mangalore natural gas pipeline project, passing through seven districts in Tamil Nadu, speedily.

In April, GAIL moved the court challenging the State government’s decision directing it to lay the pipeline along the National Highways without affecting the agricultural lands of farmers. The government’s decision followed protests by agriculturists of Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts. Admitting the company’s petition, the court had ordered notice.

The present petitioner, K. Shyam Sunder of Mandaveli here, said he was filing the application based on the information available in the internet.

He said the delay in implementing the project was against public interest. People in Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat were getting the gas in their households through pipeline. This was economical and cheaper, but the people of Tamil Nadu were denied this benefit. After acquiring the lands, the company was “lethargic and not serious in laying the gas pipeline network.”

The company had laid the pipeline and the gas grid for about 10 per cent of the total land acquired. It was the constitutional responsibility of the company to complete the project in the interest of the country’s economy.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry granted authorisation to the company for laying the gas pipeline as a common carrier pipeline network in July 2007.

The project was finally accepted by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board for laying the pipeline which passed through Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The board had also granted final acceptance for laying the gas pipeline.

The company should execute the pipeline network project as per the Gas Cooperation Agreement of June 2008 entered into with TIDCO for setting up a grid in Tamil Nadu. This would reduce the acute power shortage in the State.

The First Bench consisting of Acting Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan has ordered notice to the Petroleum Ministry and GAIL India returnable by two weeks.

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