Pradhan questions need for another CGD round

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

Dharmendra Pradhan can't understand why the PNGRB is offering cities without gas pipeline connectivity in its upcoming seventh retail gas bidding round or CGD-VII.

Faced with Pradhan's strong reservations it looks unlikely the round will go ahead in its present form. This report learns Pradhan sharply criticised the PNGRB's approach during a May 26 oil ministry meeting held to review the Modi government's "Mission PNG" which aims to provide piped gas connections to 10m households by 2019.

Gas retailers who attended the meeting held on the second anniversary of Modi's election victory say Pradhan referred in particular to Bhubaneshwar in his home state Orissa and Guwahati in Assam. "Pradhan said it made no sense to invite bids now for these two cities," says a source.

"Both cities have no source of gas or transmission pipelines nearby." More, Pradhan argued the face of Bhubaneshwar will be completely changed within five years after several urban expansion projects on the old city's periphery are completed. "What's the point in setting up a gas network in Bhubaneshwar now?" wonders a source.

"Pradhan felt there's no sense rushing to offer such cities for bidding." Gas sector sources say Pradhan was voicing concerns raised by many in the industry about CGD-VII. For instance, Chennai, the most attractive city on offer, also has no gas pipeline connectivity.