Kochi’s dream of joining the growing league of cities with piped natural gas continues to be in deep freezer for nearly three years after the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) invited bids for building city gas distribution network in Ernakulam.

Though the regulatory board cancelled the invitation for bids in November 2011, nothing has moved since then allegedly because the State government has not taken any initiative to move the project ahead even after a joint venture called Kerala GAIL Gas Limited was forged in September 2011.

A senior official of the industries department said the application for building the network for piped gas in Ernakulam district had been pending with the regulatory board and only pressure from the State government can push the project forward.

The official admitted that the key reason for PNGRB not acting on the application was because natural gas was not yet available in Kochi. However, if the infrastructure is in place it would be possible to provide piped gas by the time the first consignment of the fuel arrives in Kochi, possibly at the end of July this year.

GAIL India Limited, which has partnered Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation in forming the joint venture, has already laid 40 km of pipeline in phase I of the project for distribution of natural gas to industrial concerns that include FACT and Hindustan Organic Chemicals Limited. The joint venture was established to explore the opportunities for providing both piped gas and compressed gas for motor vehicles.