With the completion of the 540 metre stretch across Chandragiri River in North Kerala, the Gas Authority of India is ready for commissioning its much-delayed Kochi-Mangaluru natural gas pipeline.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that the final stretch of the pipeline work was completed on Saturday of the 510 km Kochi-Mangaluru line and the project is expected to be commissioned by December. The Koottanad-Walyar stretch of Bengaluru pipeline is likely to be commissioned by January next year as the work for 94 km was completed so far, he said.

The Chief Minister also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for clearing the obstacles for the project, as the state would garner a revenue ₹1,000 crore by way of taxes in a year.

The civil works in the final stretch were hindered for a few months, forcing the authorities to reduce the diameter of the pipeline across the river from 24 inch to six inches to complete the project. With this, the pipeline will start supplying gas from the Petronet LNG Terminal in Kochi to various districts shortly.

Cost overrun

The industry sources said that the civil works for the construction of the pipeline were awarded in 2016 with a deadline for completion in December 2018 at an estimated cost of ₹2,915 crore. The project was to be commissioned in 2019. But the deadline was extended to March and later to May 2019 following Kerala floods. The public protest against laying of pipelines also delayed the completion of the work, resulting in doubling the project cost.

“For Kerala, this is a major achievement in the infrastructural sector as gas availability will certainly be ushering a fresh round of industrialization in the State”, M.P.Sukumaran Nair, Director, Centre for Green Technology and Management, Kochi.

The ₹4,500 crore Petronet LNG Terminal was commissioned in 2014. Since then the long wait was for the construction of gas carrying pipeline which was delayed on account of several hurdles-regional, political, natural calamities and technical. The LDF government which came to power in 2016, took up the completion of the project on a fast track with constant monitoring and addressing issues instantly as and when they crop up. Those who extended a ‘right of way’ for the installation of the pipelines were also given a better deal with regard to compensation, Nair said.

He pointed out that a similar project planned at the same time with an installed capacity of 5 million metric tons per annum at Dahej was completed in 2003 and has undergone capacity enhancement to 17.5 MMTPA by 2019, immensely contributed to the industrial prosperity of that state.

The central government proposes to transform the primary energy consumption in the country predominantly towards natural gas, which will become a household fuel and also the prime energy source for the manufacturing sector in the coming decade. Being a fuel of the century and even on account of its lower cost and environmental friendliness, he said Kerala community would accept the same especially on account of its availability, safety being comfortable and price acceptable.