New Delhi: Giving a major boost to development of the northeast region, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved Viability Gap Funding/Capital Grant at 60% of the estimated cost of Rs 9,265 crore for the Northeast Gas Grid project.

The project is being implemented by Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited, a joint venture of five public sector units—Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOL), Oil India Limited, Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and Numaligarh Refinery Limited.  With a total length of 1,656 km, the project aims to connect major Northeastortheast cities like Guwahati, Itanagar, Kohima, Dimapur, Aizwal, Imphal, Shilong, Agartala, Silchar, Numaligarh and Gangtok. Further, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has authorised GAIL to develop the 750 km long Barauni-Guwahati pipeline which is an integral part of the Jagadishpur–Haldia–Bokaro Dhamra Pipeline (JHBDPL) project which will connect the northeast region with the National Gas Grid.

According to officials, the pipeline grid would ensure reliability and uninterrupted natural gas supplies to consumers which otherwise gets severely affected due to various reasons. “The availability of natural gas across the northeast region will boost industrial growth. Moreover, the use of natural gas will also help in improving environment in the region because it is a cleaner and green fuel, unlike kerosene and wood,” an official said.

As per data of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, at present, about 16,788 km natural gas pipeline is operational and about 14,239 km gas pipeline are being developed to increase the availability of natural gas across the country. “The gas pipeline infrastructure is economic and safe mode of transportation by connecting gas sources to gas consuming markets. The prime objective of the project would be to transport the domestic natural gas produced in the northeast states. The same will first cater to the local requirements. It will also connect the northeast region to the National Gas Grid,” an official source said.

Sanjay Kumar Kar, associate professor at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, told The Sunday Guardian that speedy implementation of the Northeast Gas Grid project will enhance access to natural gas and foster socio-economic development of the region. “Access to affordable, clean and green energy will definitely help existing industries to prosper and new industries to come up. This will result in more jobs, green production, and minimal carbon emission,” he said. 

He added: “It is high time for India to have a fully functional National Gas Grid. It offers excellent opportunities in terms of access to clean and green fuel. The National Gas Grid is poised to remove woes of many energy starved consumers in domestic, industrial and commercial segments.”

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