Kochi City Gas project remains pipe dream

City Gas project may be delayed further as Indian Oil-Adani Gas Pvt Ltd, the implementation agency, cites lack of support from local bodies to dig up roads
Two workers of the City Gas Project implemented by IndianOil-Adani Gas Pvt Ltd, busy welding at Edappally in Kochi | file pic
Two workers of the City Gas Project implemented by IndianOil-Adani Gas Pvt Ltd, busy welding at Edappally in Kochi | file pic

KOCHI: Ever since its announcement in 2013, the Kochi City Gas project --- which aims to supply piped natural gas to residents of 18 divisions in the corporation at subsidised rates --- has been one of the most-awaited initiatives. Many have been calling for expedited implementation of the project that can transform an ordinary citizen’s daily life.

Eight years later, the project remains a pipe dream. The Indian Oil-Adani Gas Pvt Ltd (IOAGPL), the project’s implementation agency, blames lack of support from local bodies for the delay. “We have provided around 4,100 connections in the city limits so far. We need to get a few more clearances from the local bodies, which has been delaying the project. We are fully prepared with the materials and machinery, and will speed up the work as soon as the approvals come through,” said an IOAGPL official.

Apart from Kochi Corporation, the agency is awaiting approvals from Thrikkakara, Kalamassery and Maradu municipalities. Disputes over the trenching of roads and their restoration have been causing delays. Though the trenching of roads within corporation limits was to be completed by June 2021, the agency hasn’t even come halfway so far.

“Right now, the focus is on the laying of pipelines in all four local bodies simultaneously. Once we receive applications for connection from interested families, we will issue them,” added the official.

‘Public is priority’
Kochi corporation officials have pointed out a lack of follow up from IOAGPL. “We don’t mind allocating required permissions for the gas project. After the review meeting in January, we had asked them to submit a detailed plan. We had also approved the trenching of SA Road and various roads under the 20th division for the project. We contacted them for two months asking to remit the statutory fee for the trenching, but they didn’t pay it. Four months later, they turned up with a request to dig up SA Road alone.

We didn’t sanction it, as the request was to set up a single CNG pump without any household connections. If they are trenching within corporation limits, equal priority should be given to households with profiteering plans,” said Mayor M Anilkumar. Mayor has also expressed displeasure over the approach of officials during the recent review meeting with IOAGPL national authorities.

“The project should ultimately benefit ordinary citizens. Families should be able to consume the gas safely. I have shared my criticism with the officials. They came up with a proposal to provide gas connectivity to Amrita Hospital in Edappally last week. I asked them to include six neighbouring divisions under the project. Once they pay the statutory fee for digging up and restoring roads in time, they can resume the work,” he added.

Minutes of review meeting
The Kochi Mayor had convened a meeting of all stakeholders of the gas project in January to fast-track its implementation in the corporation. Through many discussions regarding work schedules were held, nothing has materialised since. Indian Oil Adani Gas Private Ltd, the implementing agency is a joint venture between Indian Oil Corporation and Adani Group. Residents of 18 divisions in the city will benefit from the project, which aims to supply natural gas at subsidised rates. 

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