Govt to extend Urja Ganga gas pipeline project to North Eastern states

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Rs 129.4 billion Urja Ganga gas pipeline project is now being extended to North East adding another 750-km up to Guwahati and later to all the state capitals of the region. 

Connecting to Guwahati itself may see around Rs 37-40 billion investment. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday said that a consortium of state-run companies headed by Gail (India) has started its initial work on the project. The other partners are Indian Oil Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Oil India. 

The companies are set to approach the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board with the proposal. "Our aim is to bring North East under the natural gas grid. Work has already started on Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra region of the pipeline. Now, we are extending it to Guwahati," said petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan addressing a FICCI summit in Delhi today. 

The minister added that the pipeline network will help in better utilisation of gas deposits in Manipur, Silchar Valley and Arunachal Pradesh and create more jobs in the region. 

As per the earlier plan, Urja Ganga project was targetted at meeting the energy requirements of 40 districts and 2,600 villages covering five Eastern states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal — by 2020. The 2,539 km project was launched in October 2016 and is also known as Jgdishpur-Haldia/Bokaro-Dhamra Pipeline (JHBDPL). 

"We are looking at an expansion of around 750 km of the pipeline up to Guwahati first and later to all North Eastern state capitals. Gail will be heading the group of PSUs. Later, the pipeline will also be extended to lucrative gas fields in the region," said Utpal Bora, chairman and managing director of Oil India. However, he refused to divulge investment details. Going by the current investment of slightly above Rs 50 million per km for Urja Ganga, the first phase of North East project up to Guwahati may cost around Rs 37-40 billion.

Urja Ganga is also looking at creating city gas distribution networks in seven cities — Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Kolkata, Patna, Ranchi and Jamshedpur. It may also revive fertiliser units at Barauni in Bihar, Sindhri in Jharkhand, Talcher in Odisha and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. 

Meanwhile, Pradhan added that Gail is also working on a coal to the synthetic project in Odisha and the country is looking to cut 10 per cent import of natural gas by 2022 with additional focus on alternative energy sources like biofuel. 

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