GAIL likely to wait till SmartCity plan is ready

A decision on GAIL (India) Limited's proposal to lay pipeline through the site of the SmartCity Kochi project will in all likelihood be taken only after the latter finalises the master plan.

“The location of buildings [in SmartCity Kochi] will be clear only after the master plan is finalised. The relocation of the pipeline is possible after that,” government sources told The Hindu on Monday.

The SmartCity authorities, during the launch of the work on a pavilion on the project site on October 8, had said that the concept master plan would be ready within a month while the detailed master plan would be ready by the second quarter of next year.

The concept plan is likely to give an idea about the location of the first building alone.

GAIL had already handed over all the documents demanded by the SmartCity authorities.

GAIL authorities have also written to State Information Technology Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty on the issue a few days ago. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Excise Minister K. Babu, who are special invitees to the SmartCity Board of Directors, Additional Chief Secretary in-charge of Information Technology T. Balakrishnan and District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed.

Safety concerns

A decision on the proposed pipeline, which is part of the first phase of GAIL (India) Limited's Kochi-Koottanad-Bangalore-Mangalore pipeline project, has been in limbo ever since the SmartCity authorities expressed concern over the pipeline, citing the possibility of multinational companies considering it a safety threat.

Discussions held to iron out the difference proved inconclusive.

In-principle approval

The State government had conveyed an in-principle approval to GAIL verbally in August to lay the pipeline along the border of the project site. However, no official decision has been taken on the matter till date.

As per the plan, the proposed pipeline made up of concrete coated carbon steel pipes welded together will pass through about 700-800 meters of the project site. If approved, the work could be completed in 30 days.

Sources said that the inordinate delay in laying the pipeline would even affect the LNG Petronet.

GAIL is of the view that the pipeline proposed along the periphery of the project site poses no safety problems.

It is pointed out that legally GAIL is on a firm ground and need not even have sought permission for laying the pipeline through the site as the government had given blanket permission back in October, 2010. The Kerala State Electricity Board had also given provisional approval for the proposed pipeline stretching through the land, which was originally owned by the board.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, and the Pollution Control Board had also given the nod.

GAIL, however, is unlikely to get into a tussle with the State government over a project that is as important as SmartCity Kochi.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 7:37:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/gail-likely-to-wait-till-smartcity-plan-is-ready/article2548069.ece

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