As much as Rs 1.2 lakh crore of investment has been committed by firms like IOC, Adani Gas and Torrent in a massive rollout of CNG stations and cooking gas connections to households over the next 8-10 years, oil regulator PNGRB said Friday. The move is likely to expand coverage of city gas to 70 per cent of the country's population. PNGRB has in last six months awarded licenses for setting up city gas distribution networks in 136 geographical areas or GAs in two bid rounds that will expand the network of CNG stations in the country to 10,000 from current 1,500 and piped natural gas connections to household kitchens to 5 crore from current 5 lakh, PNGRB Chairman D K Sarraf said. While Rs 70,000 crore investment was committed in 86 GAs awarded in the 9th city gas bid round in August last year, another Rs 50,000 crore was committed in the 50 GAs awarded in the 10th round Friday, he said. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan handed over letter of intent to the winners of the 10th round which included firms like Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), Torrent Gas and Adani Gas. "Just 20 per cent of the population was covered by city gas distribution network in 2014 and now after award of 10th bid round, this will reach 70 per cent," he said. "After 10th round, the coverage of city gas network will extend to 402 districts in the country". While 86 Geographical Areas or GAs, made up of 174 districts, were offered for bidding in the 9th round that concluded in August last year, 50 GAs, comprising of 124 districts, were offered in the 10th round. "225 bids from 25 entities were received up to February 5, 2019, i.e., the bid closing date (for the 10th round). And the PNGRB finalised the bids in a record time of 21 days," Sarraf said. Prior to this, city gas distribution (CGD) licences had been given for 178 GAs covering 280 districts (263 complete and 17 part) spread over 26 states and UTs. These covered about 50 per cent of India's population (as per 2011 census) and 35 per cent of its geographical area. State-owned IOC won licences to retail gas in 10 cities, while HPCL won rights for nine towns in the 10th city gas bid round. IOC won city gas distribution licences for nine cities, most of them in Bihar and Jharkhand, on its own and one in a joint venture with Adani Gas. HPCL, a subsidiary of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), won licences to retail CNG to automobiles and piped natural gas to households in nine cities in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. A consortium of LNG Marketing Pte Ltd and Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Company of Manila Inc won rights for nine cities in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala. Gujarat Gas Ltd won rights for six cities, while state gas utility GAIL India's unit GAIL Gas Ltd won rights for four. Indraprastha Gas Ltd and Torrent Gas won rights for three cities each, while Adani Gas and Bharat Gas Resources Ltd, a subsidiary of state-owned Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), bagged two cities each. "In the 10th bid round 2 crore piped natural gas connections have been committed to be given and 3,500 CNG stations will be set up. Besides, 58,000-inch kilometre of steel pipeline will be laid for the supply of gas," Sarraf said, adding this along with commitments made in the 9th bid would help increase piped cooking gas connections 10-folds to 5 crore and CNG stations to 10,000 from current 1,500. Oil Secretary M M Kutty said the massive expansion of city gas distribution network is as part of government efforts to raise the share of natural gas in the energy basket to 15 per cent by 2030 from current 6.2 per cent. Natural gas is cleaner and environment-friendly fuel and is intended to replace some of the polluting coal and liquid fuels consumed currently. With the completion of 10th bidding round, CGD would be available in 228 GAs comprising 402 districts spread over 27 States and Union Territories covering approximately 70 per cent of India's population and 53 per cent of its geographical area.