Lakhs of customers and households will now have access to piped natural gas (PNG) with the government readying a roadmap to cover 77 new towns and cities across India over the next four to five years.
At present, 23 cities with population of more than 500,000 are covered through PNG. As on December, 31, 2013, there were more than 24,00,000 households with piped gas throughout the country.
"As there is enough scope for increasing the coverage in cities, it is planned to cover 51 new towns and cities with population of over 500,000 and 26 town and cities with a population between 400,000-500,000, within the next five years (together totalling upt o 77 cities under the plan)," according to an internal note of the petroleum ministry, a copy of which is available with HT.
"PM Modi is himself overseeing the progress of PNG expansion in cities across the country and to ensure speedy implementation, discussions were held recently between petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and downstream oil regulator, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), on the plan to cover 77 new cities and towns," a senior oil ministry official said.
PNGRB has been entrusted with the task for rollout of city gas distribution (CGD) entities based on pipeline connectivity and gas availability. In cities that would fall in the vicinity of proposed pipelines, PNGRB has been requested to synchronise the bidding process with the development of the pipeline.
Under the roadmap, PNGRB has been asked to finalise a phase-wise action plan within three months for expansion of PNG usage.
PNGRB is already in the process of finalising bids for 14 new cities including Bangalore and Pune. For the remaining 63, bids will be invited over the next two-three years.
The move is also in line with the announcement made by finance minister Arun Jaitley has in his budget speech for wider coverage of PNG.
An extensive PNG coverage across the country will bring down the government’s LPG subsidy bill that stood at over Rs. 40,000 crore during 2013-14, and also help in targeting such heavy subsidies on cooking gas (or LPG) only for the needy and the poor.