A special panel of officials needed to cut red tape in piped gas project
THOUGH it is just a streak, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for the much-delayed piped natural gas project in the state with 25 households getting piped gas. They are from among residents of a housing society at Old Goa; they have become the first families in the state to use piped gas, though the supply is not direct but through a ‘cascade filling system’ in which gas is filled in a large container set up in the society from which it is supplied through pipes to a small number of households. This has been done on an experimental basis as the formal launch of the piped gas project beginning with Ponda has been stuck up owing to the sloth in government offices. For setting up a district regulator system the Goa Natural Gas (GNG) Pvt Ltd needs land in Ponda which it has not got in a year and a half. Meanwhile the district regulator system at Old Goa, which is required to distribute gas to households, was ready, so they started it on a pilot basis. Ponda, where the first 1,000 connections were planned to be activated, would have to wait till all the issues are sorted out. GNG officials are hopeful the wait would not prolong beyond January 2020.
The piped gas supply project aims to serve both households and industries. Though several industrial units in Marcaim, Kundaim and Usgaon showed interest in switching over to piped gas, Crompton and Greaves became the first to sign a gas purchase agreement with GNG for supply of 1,000 standard cubic metres per day (scmd). As natural gas is a clean and green fuel industries in Goa need to switch over to it as it will help protect the environment by reducing emissions of harmful gases. Though the work on laying gas pipelines in Panaji was taken up months ago, there is no hope for its residents getting it soon owing to infrastructural and approval issues. As in Ponda, GNG has been struggling to find land for installation of a district regulator system, which is a mere 200 metres. The work on laying gas pipeline upto Bambolim has been stopped.
Though the piped gas project was initiated a decade ago, the government managed to remove the hurdles posed by opposition in many places, especially in Bicholim, Ponda and Mormugao talukas and was able to set the ball rolling two years ago. The Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) gas pipeline project is from Dabhol (Maharashtra) to Bidadi (Karnataka), and that has been tapped at Gokak in Karnataka to supply gas to Goa. When the project was planned in 2009 the target was that gas would flow by 2012. GNG is facing different hurdles including land and approvals for setting up district regulator systems. Though land for the Ponda module has been identified and an agreement over its sale has been reached among GNG, the landowners and the government, the go-ahead has been held up as the officials have been unable to correctly classify the land for months.
Early completion of the project would help the state and people in more ways than one. The government should send out directives to the concerned officials to resolve the issues that have been holding up the project. In order to see that the project becomes a reality in the near future, the government has to monitor that all safety measures and norms were followed by the company as well as users to prevent any mishap. Government officials have to appreciate that delay in the execution of the project not only leads to cost escalation but also gives room for unnecessary objections from vested interests. The approvals pending at the government levels should be given without further delay. As the ambitious project has been dragged for nearly a decade, the government should set up a special panel to make sure that there is smooth sailing in completing the project at least from now on, so that piped gas reaches all households and industries in the state at the earliest.