It’s been five years since GAIL Gas Limited (GGL) got a contract to supply Piped Natural Gas (PNG) in Bengaluru. The aim was for GGL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of GAIL (India) Limited, to give PNG connection to 1.32 lakh homes and 200 industries in the city by 2020. But PNG, a cost-effective, green fuel, is yet to reach large parts of the city.
Karthika P S N, a resident at JP Nagar’s RBI Layout, says she’s awaiting a natural gas connection since it’s “eco-friendly and cheap, and will relieve us from being dependent on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders”. She says that individual pipelines have been laid in RBI Layout, but that last-mile connection is pending.
PNG, which is lighter than LPG, is known to be a cleaner cooking fuel and is directly supplied to kitchens through pipelines. The use of PNG instead of conventional fuels in industries is expected to reduce industrial pollution around the city also substantially.
GGL officials say that PNG is currently being supplied to households and industries in 24 areas in the city:
- HSR including Iblur
- Whitefield (Garudacharpalaya, Kadugodi, Hagadur, Doddanekundi)
- Sanjay Nagar
- Dollars Colony/ Radhakrishna Temple ward
- Part of Nagawara
- Part of Thanisandra
- Part of Byatarayanapura
- Part of Peenya
- Part of Hoskote
- Part of Electronic City
- Pipeline road, HMT ward
- CQAE, Yeswanthpur
- Central Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), Tumkur Main Road, Yeshwanthpur Industrial Area
- BEL Colony
- BHEL, Malleshwaram
- RWF West, Yelahanka
- Jindal Nature Cure, Jal Factory & Colony, Tumkur Main Road
According to Shilpi Tandon, Senior Manager (Corporate Communications) at GGL, the company is currently focusing on establishing the infrastructure network for PNG across the city, and not on supply. She said the project was not deadline-based since it involves factors like land acquisition and negotiating with other projects that require underground work. GGL officials did not specify the exact number of household connections that have been given in the city so far.
It was in 2015 that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) awarded GGL the project to implement the City Gas Distribution (CGD) project in Bengaluru. The project was to draw natural gas from the 1,000 km-long Dabhol-Bengaluru pipeline, and to supply it within 4395 sq km of Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts including BBMP limits, outer areas like Nelamangala, Doddaballapur, Devanahalli, Hoskote and Anekal.
In a press release this February, A K Jana, CEO at GGL, said the company aimed to bring PNG to every household and industry in the city within the next five years.
Customer base increased, says GAIL
According to GAIL’s February press release, with the flexible payment options it introduced in October 2019, around 40,000 new households in the city have opted for PNG. Earlier, registration for a new connection required upfront fee of Rs 5,800. Instead of this, three payment options were introduced.
One option included waiving off of Rs 1,000 security deposit, with the customer having to pay only Rs 4,000 as a Refundable Connection Deposit before PNG supply started. The second option included payment of security deposit through Equal Daily Installment (EDI) of Rs 5 per day (refundable), collected for 1000 days. The third method included payment of a non-refundable daily rental of Rs 1 along with the invoice.
Accidents are a concern
In the wake of a couple of accidents involving GGL’s pipeline, company officials said they were conducting safety awareness programmes. Shilpi said, “We have been persuading civic agencies to contact GGL control rooms before they do any excavation in the vicinity of the pipeline. These directions are also mentioned on the safety markers that we install during pipeline laying.” Further, Shilpi says, the gas pipelines are laid 1 m below the earth’s surface to avoid damage, and regular patrolling is done by foot and van to ensure their safety.
Work on CNG stations progressing
GAIL says it already has 16 operational CNG stations – in Agara, Sarjapur Road, Vidyaranyapura, Tata Nagar, Airport Road, Hardware Park, Rajankunte, Peenya, Laggare, Sunkadakatte, Magadi Road, Bannerghatta Road, Jigani, Bommasandra, Anekal and Reva University. The company has been organising awareness campaigns near these stations in association with automobile companies that manufacture CNG vehicles (Maruti, Tata, Hyundai, etc), and is also collaborating with ride-sharing companies/fleet operators to induct more vehicles running on CNG.
CNG stations are expected to be opened in 40 other locations soon. However, Shilpi said the company has faced challenges in land acquisition to set up new stations. “We have published ‘Expression of Interest’ inviting dealers to set up CNG stations, and are actively pursuing talks with private landowners in central areas like JP Nagar, Jayanagar, BTM, Kormanagala and Malleshwaram,” she said.