Gas pipeline

TNN Bureau. Updated: 2/16/2022 11:34:59 AM Edit and Opinion

The much-talked about 750-km-long gas pipeline project between Bhatinda and Srinagar via Jammu has remained entangled in red-tape as the project did not move even a single inch since last year’s Union Budget announcement. During the Budget for financial year 2021-22 in February 2021, the Centre had announced that a gas pipeline project would be taken up in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir but no physical progress (on the project) was achieved since then. Union Finance Ministry in its report on ‘Implementation of Budget Announcements-2021-22’, tabled in the Parliament while Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled a bigger Rs 39.45 lakh crore Budget on Tuesday, said that GAIL, India’s leading natural gas company, has submitted Design for Reliability (DFR), besides directive was issued to Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) for issuing authorization for Gurdaspur – Srinagar pipeline to GAIL. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has requested the government of J&K to levy zero percent VAT on natural gas in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, PIB (Public Investment Board) and EFC (Expenditure Finance Committee) approval for VGF (Viability gap funding) grant is under process. There had been “significant escalation” in cost of the project due to “red tape and bureaucratic lethargy” because authorities concerned failed to start physical work on the project during the last over 10 years. Gujarat state-promoted GSPL had won a licence in 2011 to lay the 750-km pipeline from Bathinda in Punjab state up to Srinagar, with the condition that extension to Jammu and Srinagar would depend on a technical and commercial feasibility report. In August 2020, GSPL wrote to the PNGRB to surrender authorisation to extend the pipeline beyond Punjab to Jammu and Srinagar citing low gas demand and technical complexities.
Thereafter, the PNGRB asked GSPL to build part of the pipeline from Bathinda to the border of Punjab by the end of last year and extend it to Jammu and Srinagar by February 24. Unfortunately, the project has made no physical progress due to continued red tape and administrative lethargy. The Rs 880-crore project was envisaged to connect the J&K with the National Gas Grid through the pipeline and ultimately link individual households with gas stations through a network of supply lines for round-the-clock supply of cooking gas especially during winters when Kashmir Valley remains covered with snow.

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