New Delhi, Oct 7

The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR & Adjoining Areas (CAQM) on Friday directed the 11 city gas distribution (CGD) entities in the region to set up infrastructure for CNG and PNG in the entire region by winter next year.

The air quality panel held a meeting on Friday with the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoPNG) and the CGD companies in the national capital region (NCR) to review the status of natural gas infrastructure.

“Considering the compelling necessity to fight air pollution arising out of industrial activities and vehicles, CAQM has directed expeditious commissioning of gas infrastructure in the entire NCR well before the next winter season,” the panel said.

The CGDs have assured the Commission that by September 2023, all the industrial areas in the NCR will be connected by gas infrastructure, CAQM said.

Around 1.7 million tonnes (MT) of coal is consumed annually by various industries in the NCR, with about 1.4 MT alone being consumed in the six major industrial districts.

Gas infra

The NCR is divided into 24 geographical areas (GAs) and has been divided among 11 CGD entities, which are responsible for providing gas connectivity to the GA’s allotted to them, it added.

The region has a total of 240 industrial areas out of which gas connectivity and infrastructure has been achieved in 74.5 per cent areas (179 Industrial Areas).

There are a total of 963 compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in the NCR as well as 22,24,055 domestic piped natural gas (PNG) connections. The commercial PNG connections are 5,185, while industrial connections stood at 5,361.

Switching over industries in NCR to the approved clean fuels including PNG is a priority for the panel. The Commission has already directed state governments in NCR to phase out coal and completely avoid use of coal from January 1, 2023 (except for thermal power plants). In effect, the approved fuel list shall be completely in force in the entire NCR from January next year.

Natural gas gets a boost

The move by CAQM to ban use of coal as a fuel will boost the prospects of natural gas in the NCR region. Analysts expect the development to be positive for the city gas distribution (CGD) companies. As per the Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell, the global per capita natural gas consumption is 496 cubic metres (cu.m) compared to 43 cu.m for India.

“Presently, gas prices are volatile due to geo-political issues, but going ahead they may soften from the second half of 2023. Besides, industries would prefer PNG compared to biomass, due to availability issues of the latter. Parallelly it will raise gas contribution in India’s energy mix as per the government’s mandate,” a senior official from a CGD entity said.

India’s total consumption of natural gas during August this year stood at 4,966 million standard cubic meters on a provisional basis.