Rice husk CGD threat in Kanpur and Bareilly

Vol 20, PW 19 (15 Jun 17) Midstream & Downstream

A grain of rice wouldn't scare most people.

But Central UP Gas (CUGL) insists rice husks (the hard protective cover on rice grain) used as cheap fuel are the biggest obstacles to the growth of its piped gas network in the Uttar Pradesh cities of Kanpur and Bareilly. PETROWATCH learns CUGL, a JV of Indraprastha Gas (50%), GAIL (25%) and Bharat Petroleum (25%), is preparing a marketing campaign to more than triple the number of homes connected to its network from 20,000 today to 70,000 by the end of 2017-18.

"It's difficult, but it can be achieved if there are no obstacles," reports a CUGL source. "Rice husks are our biggest competitor.

Rice husks when burnt are highly polluting. Their ash is a health hazard and the state pollution control board should crack down on users." But rice husks are available abundantly and sell at Rs2.50/kg while CUGL's gas sells at Rs40/cubic metre.

One kg of rice husk yields 3000 kcal of energy while one cubic metre of gas on average yields about 9000 kcal. But this still means using rice husks is roughly five times cheaper than using gas.

Still, CUGL hopes to lure household customers to piped gas in the Jajmau, Roop Nagar, Kidwai Nagar and Sidhpur areas of Kanpur. Of the 50,000 additional piped gas connections planned this year, CUGL aims to connect about 35,000 in Kanpur and 15,000 in Bareilly.