Prabhat Singh's wish-list for Pinarayi Vijayan

Vol 19, PW 20 (16 Jun 16) People & Policy

Impatient Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is known for his short temper so Petronet-LNG boss Prabhat Singh better be concise when the two meet again next month [July] after their fruitful meeting on May 30 at Thiruvananthapuram.

In that meeting Vijayan asked Singh to prepare a detailed list of problems faced by the stranded 5m t/y Kochi terminal in particular roadblocks holding up the 508-km R-LNG evacuation pipeline that GAIL must lay from Kochi to Mangalore without which the LNG terminal is doomed to fail. "At the last meeting Vijayan assured Singh he would help," confirms a Petronet-LNG source.

Quite a feat from a member of the traditionally anti-business Communist Party of India (Marxist). But the stranded Kochi LNG terminal has become a national disgrace and Vijayan is a pragmatic politician.

Commissioned in August 2013 for Rs5000cr ($745m) it functions today at barely 2% capacity. "Within days of taking over as new chief minister [on May 25, 2016] Vijayan called for a meeting with Prabhat Singh," adds our source.

"This has sent out very positive signals. If Petronet-LNG gets Vijayan's support you can expect the pipeline to be ready by 2018." Farmers in seven districts of north Kerala where the pipeline will pass bitterly oppose the project fearing its impact on their land.