PNGRB puts off bidding for retail CNG licence in 11 cities

Oil regulator PNGRB has for the second time in as many months postponed opening of bidding for licence to retail CNG in 11 cities, including Chennai, Bhopal and Visakhapatnam, which are among the 20 cities named for the $7.5 billion smart city makeover.

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Citing stakeholders' feedback, oil regulator PNGRB has dropped seven out of the 11 cities it had identified for the bidding of licenses to retail CNG. (Reuters)

Oil regulator PNGRB has for the second time in as many months postponed opening of bidding for licence to retail CNG in 11 cities, including Chennai, Bhopal and Visakhapatnam, which are among the 20 cities named for the $7.5 billion smart city makeover.

Soon after government picked 20 cities to provide with uninterrupted power and water supplies, proper sanitation and public transport to turn them into smart cities with living standards comparable to Europe, the regulator decided to give out licence to retail CNG and piped cooking gas in 11 of cities that did not have them as yet.

But the problem was none of the 11 cities – Bhubaneshwar in Odisha, Jaipur and Udaipur in Rajasthan, Jabalpur and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Solapur in Maharashtra, Davanagari in Karnataka, Coimbatore and Chennai in Tamil Nadu and Guwahati in Assam — was connected with any of the gas pipelines.

Unmindful, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) on March 31 issued a notice saying bidding process for licence for the 11 cities will start on April 22 with beginning of sale of bid documents and last date for bidding was June 20.

It on April 22 modified the notice to say sale of bid documents would commence on May 16 and last date of bidding will be July 14.

PNGRB has now postponed the date for start of sale of bid documents to June 14. August 3 would be the last date for issuance of the bid documens and bids would close at 1200 hours on August 12, it said in a fresh notice.

Industry sources said without the cities being connected to any pipeline, no gas can be transported and so sale of comperessed natural gas (CNG) and piped natural gas to households for cooking purpose was not possible.

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