KOHCI: It seems that the decade-long wait by the State for an alternative fuel, in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), is unlikely to end in the near future, for want of pipeline network.
Though the high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the last week of October, which emphasised on the need to implement the project, gave green signal for the project, the message has not reached the local level.
The situation in Kozhikode and Malappuram, where the project faced strong protests, is not different as the residents are not convinced yet that the gas passing through their land will not be a threat to them.
It is learnt that the local bodies in the Kozhikode and Malappuram districts do not want to disturb the sentiments of the people as elections are supposed to be held next year.
“In two years, more natural gas will be explored in the country. This gas will be available at a rate in the range of $6-8 per unit, almost one-third of the current price in Kochi. But, Kerala may miss this opportunity as the State is not connected to the ‘national natural gas network,” said a top official at GAIL, adding that even if we start the laying of the pipeline now it would take at least two years to complete the project.
Kozhikode Collector C A Latha said that the land acquisition for the project has not reached anywhere in the district. Only the land required for the GAIL stations have been acquired.
“A meeting of the panchayat presidents was convened to discuss the need to get the consent of the people to lay the pipes. They have to convince the people, and a final decision in this regard is yet to be taken,” she said.
Permission is needed only for the ‘Right of Use’ of the land. After laying the pipes, the land could be used for any other purpose by the owners.
“However, there are some problems regarding the alignment in areas where religious institutions are situated. The GAIL authorities have to make slight changes to the alignment in such places,” she said.
Call for Campaign
“A strong campaign is needed to take the people into confidence that the project should become a reality as it could boost the economy of the State. Gas-based projects have already come up in the major cities in the country. The GAIL project too can be completed without much delay if the people support it,” Latha added.
Malappuram Collector K Biju said that there were protests from several quarters against the laying of pipes. After Chief Minister Oommen Chandy convened a meeting in this regard, the panchayat presidents and secretaries have been entrusted to hold discussions with the people in this regard and convince them.