Adani Gas treads carefully in old Ahmedabad

Vol 15, PW 20 (19 Apr 12) Midstream & Downstream

Old Ahmedabad’s narrow lanes, intricate carved wooden houses, and quick-tempered residents are best approached with caution by CGD operators.

Adani Gas knows this but is determined to add 40,000 new household piped gas connections in 2012-13, many in the walled off Khadia area at the city’s heart. It admits this won’t be easy.

“Khadia is proving difficult,” says a company source. “Congested lanes are difficult to access during the day so we must work at night to dig roads and lay gas pipelines.

” Complaints by local residents are forcing Adani to rely solely on manual labour to avoid using noisy road-breaking and digging equipment. “People here are headstrong,” we learn.

“They ‘speak with their hands’ (conflict resolution involves raised fists followed by slaps and kicks).” Locals are also particular about preventing damage to government-designated ‘heritage houses’, making pipeline-laying work a nightmare.

“A minor mistake can lead to major losses at these carefully preserved homes,” we hear. “Narrow lanes prevent us from sending emergency vans (if there’s a gas leak).

” Even police hesitate to enter the area, which despite being a popular tourist attraction also has a history of communal tension between Hindus and Muslims, and saw bloodshed during the Gujarat riots in 2002. Rocky soil is another hurdle.

“With great difficulty we lay hardly five metres of pipeline a night,” we are told. Besides Khadia, Adani is targeting the posh Shahibaug area, first developed by Mughal emperor Shah Jehan in 1618.

Modern day Shahibaug connects Ahmedabad city with its airport. “Many new apartment blocks have come up and we expect a good response,” we hear.

By the end of this fiscal, Adani wants to increase its total household gas connections from 148,000 to 188,000.