The Telegraph
Monday , June 19 , 2017

Govt withholds nod for pipe-gas project

Bhubaneswar, June 18: The much-hyped piped gas supply project of Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) for the twin cities and the proposed Jagdishpur-Haldia/Bokaro-Dhamra gas pipeline do not have the sanction of the Odisha government.

Union minister of state for petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated the pipe-gas supply project in Bhubaneswar on March 18.

The High Level Clearance Authority, headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, has withheld the mandatory clearance on the ground that the details of the two projects submitted by GAIL "are too sketchy and lack details".

Official sources said the project submitted by the Union government has drawn the bare outlines of pipe-gas supply to Nalco Colony in Bhubaneswar and does not have details about the twin-city supply network. The same holds true for the inter-state gas pipeline covering 13 districts. Except for asking for 51 acres of land, the proposal does not go into the details of this ambitious project.

BJD spokesperson Samir Ranjan Dash said: "It's a political gimmick for cheap publicity. The project has been prepared by GAIL in haste to satisfy its political masters. The state government wants detailed proposals."

BJP state vice-president Samir Mohanty, on the other hand, said: "The BJD is jealous of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and does not want the project to be implemented because it is being piloted by Union minister of state for petroleum Pradhan."

The gas project along with the proposal for National Thermal Power Corporation's (NTPC) expansion works in Talcher, the home turf of Pradhan, did not find the High Level Clearance Authority's approval. In the case of the NTPC, "zero employment gain" is the cause of concern for the state government.

The public sector GAIL proposes to lay a gas pipeline, which will pass through 13 districts of the state, and also a pipe-gas distribution network in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The Single Window Clearance Authority, headed by the state's chief secretary, had given in-principle approval to the project on May 31 and referred it to the High Level Clearance Authority for final approval as the twin projects involve expenditure above Rs 1,000 crore.

Official sources said the clearance authority had sought more information about the three proposals. "The two gas project proposals worth Rs 5,700 crore are too sketchy and have no details. The clearance authority has sought detailed information about its different project components and requirements. The proposal does not mention the plan of how the project will roll out," said an official.

Incidentally, the city gas distribution scheme in March was marred by controversy with Naveen skipping the function. The names of two state ministers - Pushpendra Singh Deo and Ashok Chandra Panda - were also found deleted from the final invitation card.

So far as the NTPC expansion project is concerned, the proposal is to set up two 660MW units in Talcher, hometown of the Union petroleum minister.

Official sources said the proposal has will not create additional employment apart from the jobs that local people already have at NTPC. The "zero employment generation" in the expansion project is not acceptable to the state government. NTPC has been advised to modify the project configuration.

An official source said: "The public sector company has been asked to go for two 800 MW thermal units in tune with the latest technology instead of two 660 MWs as proposed by them."

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