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HT spotlight: Chandigarh’s alternative to LPG still in the pipeline

The painfully slow progress in laying the underground pipes has been a major stumbling block in the completion of this project. In the last two years, the company has been able to cover barely a dozen sectors, that too in the city’s south.

punjab Updated: Aug 02, 2018 12:48 IST
Ifrah Mufti
Ifrah Mufti
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh,piped natural gas,LPG
Piped gas at the Progressive Enclave in Sector 50 is much appreciated by the consumers.(HT photo)

Though piped natural gas (PNG), 20% cheaper than LPG, became a reality in Chandigarh in 2016 when 200 households received its connection, plans to cover the entire city with this cheaper and hassle-free alternative to gas cylinders have failed to take off with only 9000 residents getting this connection so far.

It was two years ago that the Indian Oil Adani Gas Pvt Ltd joined hands with the Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) to start the city gas distribution (CGD) network from five housing societies in Sector 49. Later, it was extended to five sectors-- Sectors 48, 50, 51 and economically weaker section colony of Dhanas.

The Rs 400-crore CGD project was tasked with reaching 5 lakh households within a year. It’s a goal that it’s nowhere near meeting even though the small tribe of PNG consumers in the city is satisfied with its piped connection.

Manju Jain, member of the board of directors of Progressive Society in Sector 50, who was amongst the first to get this piped connection, is happy with both the price and convenience.

“Ours is a three-member family and our two-month bill comes to Rs 800, which is cheaper than the LPG. But the bigger relief is that we no longer have to worry about the cylinder getting exhausted at odd hours.”

Echoing her, Vineeta Kansal, a resident of Advocate Society, Sector 48, who has been using PNG for two years, said, “While it hasn’t led to a major cut in our fuel budget, there are a lot of other advantages. We don’t have to worry about half-empty or leaky cylinders.”

The stumbling blocks

If the consumers are happy, what is keeping the Adanis from converting the entire city to PNG? The painfully slow progress in laying the underground pipes has been a major stumbling block in the completion of this project. In the last two years, the company has been able to cover barely a dozen sectors, that too in the city’s south.

At several places in Sectors 34, 44 and 45, residents complain that the company laid the pipes but had failed to fill up the trenches.

Shrugging off all blame for the slow pace of work, Mukesh Anand, the chief engineer, Chandigarh, said, “They have been themselves delaying the work. They come to seek approval but never give us a plan and drawing telling us where and how they want to lay the pipes and extend their network.”

He added, “How do we approve any digging without a plan? Who will be responsible for the violations made in the houses?”

Striking a conciliatory note, Sanjay Tarat, head of assets at the Indian Oil Adani Gas Private Limited, said they will prepare their network and cover the entire city in this financial year. “The Municipal Corporation has set certain guidelines for us, and they have been cooperating. We have been trying our best to cover the entire city.”

Tarat said the company has registered 15,000 consumers in the new sectors where it has laid its network.

“In all, 15000 registrations have been done, out of which 9000 households have been connected. Supplying PNG to a household takes around three months. We are working on our infrastructure to take PNG to the rest of the city.”

The sectors covered

The sectors where the network has been laid include 32,34,35,36,37, 42, 43, 44,46, 47, 48, 49, 50 and 51.Meanwhile, work is about to start in Sectors 40, 41, 38 and 39.

Mohali and Panchkula don’t have a policy on PNG, so the company hasn’t started work in these two districts. A senior Adani official said though Punjab has a policy in line, it will take some time to implement it in Mohali.

The company claims it is all set to take permission from the MC and the UT engineering department to extend its network to less populated sectors such as Sector 1, 2, 3 and then Sector 9 and 11, followed by Sector 20, 21 and 22.

Cheaper than LPG

PNG is cheaper than LPG by 20% as its costs Rs 23.65 per standard cubic metre, while a non-subsidised domestic LPG cylinder costs Rs 764 for 14.2 kg.

Installation schemes

The installation charges are Rs 5,618 out of which Rs 5,500 is refundable if you surrender your connection.

There are three schemes to pay this charge: One is the full payment scheme where you pay the full sum at one go; the second is an EMI-based scheme in which you pay Rs1600 as the initial cost and the rest in installments over two years.

The third is the rental scheme for EWS residents in Dhanas, wherein a customer pays Rs 618 as the initial cost and a rental of Rs 25 a month for lifetime.

The billing cycle

Bills are sent every two months and the residents can pay online or through cheque. They can also visit the supplier’s office in industrial area, Phase 1, Chandigarh. The supplier has set up a drop box at the IOCL petrol and CNG pump in Sector 44, where the residents can pay their bills through a cheque attached with a bill receipt.

Is it safe?

PNG is lighter than the commonly used LPG. While the latter settles on the ground, PNG dissolves in the air. Also, the gas pipelines are safely positioned underground all over the city.

How to get it:

  • Documents required

You have to fill the application forms provided by the IOCL. The documents required include the Aadhaar card, ration card, driving licence, photocopy of any one out of the electricity bill, BSNL telephone bill, registered sale deed or the MC tax receipt.

  • Equipment required

The refundable interest-free security deposit covers the equipment and the labour cost of installation. Here is the equipment needed for a PNG connection:

• Gas tap in the kitchen

• A riser isolation valve and meter isolation in front of the metering unit

• Up to 10 metres of pipe till the metering unit

• Metering unit (Domestic meter, one regulator and fittings)

• Up to 5 metres of copper pipe from the metering unit to the gas tap

• A wire braided flexible hose

• Conversion of maximum four burners for PNG use in a single gas stove.

  • Advantages

• No needs to book an LPG or wait for its delivery

• It has a stronger flame

• Consumes lesser gas

• Provides uninterrupted supply

• Is more economically priced

• Saves cylinder space

• Emits less smells

• Lesser chances of catching fire

First Published: Aug 02, 2018 12:48 IST