The National Democratic Alliance government’s flagship Urja Ganga gas pipeline will now be extended by 750 km to connect the seven North-Eastern states of the country, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Thursday.
“Our aim is to bring the north-east under the natural gas grid. Work has already started on Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra region of the pipeline. Now, we are extending it to Guwahati,” said petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, addressing a Ficci summit in New Delhi. A consortium of state-run firms spearheaded by GAIL (India) has started the initial work of the project; the others in the consortium include Indian Oil Corp, Oil and Natural Gas Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Oil India.
The original Rs 12,940-crore, 2,655-km Urja Ganga project plans to fulfill the energy requirements of 40 districts and 2,600 villages across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal by 2020. The pipeline is being laid from Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal and onwards to Bokaro in Jharkhand and Dhamra in Odisha. In addition, the pipeline will now be extended with an aim to help in better utilisation of gas deposits in Manipur, Silchar Valley and Arunachal Pradesh, and in turn create more jobs in the region. Pradhan said while there are gas reserves in these areas, they have not been exploited given the lack of transmission infrastructure.
GAIL has already done a feasibility study to lay the pipeline up to Guwahati in Assam within the approved project cost of Rs 12,940 crore for Urja Ganga, which is the first pipeline project to have got central assistance of Rs 5,176 crore. The consortium, which will be creating a special purpose vehicle, will approach the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board to allow it to extend the line.
The pipeline in the eastern states will not only help in supplying gas for domestic use, it will also supply natural gas to fertiliser units at Sindri (Jharkhand), Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Barauni (Bihar) to manufacture urea, the most commonly used plant nutrient in the country. Moreover, the pipeline will also supply gas to steel plants in order to manufacture quality steel.
The development comes at a time when there are reports that GAIL can be split to bifurcate its pipeline and marketing businesses.