Unavailability of land to lay a pipeline is proving the biggest hurdle in bringing the environment-friendly compressed natural gas (CNG) to Calcutta, the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) had told the National Green Tribunal.
Environmentalists have long been saying that use of CNG is critical to reducing air pollution in Calcutta.
A GAIL affidavit filed on July 13 in connection with a petition filed by environment activist Subhas Datta also requested the tribunal to issue “necessary directions… upon the government of West Bengal” to expedite the process of acquiring the land and provide “right of usage (RoU)” of the land to lay the pipeline.
“Since the acquisition of RoU (right of usage; which means the land for pipe laying) in West Bengal has been very slow, respondent No. 3 (GAIL), since 2018 is regularly taking up the matter with higher authorities in the state for intervention and expediting the RoU acquisition,” reads the affidavit.
The pipeline is slated to pass through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
GAIL said the work had either been completed or awarded till Durgapur in Bengal but had got stuck after that mainly because of lack of land acquisition.
“Out of 858km of gas pipeline from Phulpur (Uttar Pradesh) to Calcutta, 582km of pipeline has been welded and laid underground and work is on 110km. For the 166km pipeline section from Durgapur to Hansagara (Hooghly) to Calcutta, work can (only) be started after acquisition of RoU,” the affidavit states.
The agency identified the failure of acquiring land in districts like North 24-Parganas, Nadia and Hoogly as the primary reason for delay, along with the tardiness of the Calcutta Port Trust and the Bandel thermal power station in giving clearances. The clearances have been pending for over six months.
“It’s not an easy process. We are trying from our end. Several departments are involved,” said an official of the state transport department, who blamed the Covid situation for being slow in acquisition.
“Bringing CNG to Calcutta is a critical step to arrest Calcutta’s vehicular pollution,” said petitioner Datta.