Pradhan 'forgets' shortfall in CGD celebration

Vol 24, PW 15 (17 Jun 21) Midstream, Downstream, Renewables

Despite its grand promise, the ruling BJP has missed its widely publicised target to connect 10m (1cr) homes with piped gas-on-tap leaving a shortfall of 2.18m (21.8 lakhs) households.

Unsurprisingly, the oil ministry fails to mention this in new household gas connection figures released on June 1 to celebrate seven years of the Narendra Modi government since May 26 (2014) when it first took office. Amid much fanfare, Modi pledged in March 2015 to provide piped natural gas connection to 10m homes in four years, or by March 2019.

But according to the government's own figures, only 7.82m (78.2 lakhs) new homes could be connected by April 30 (2021) since March 2015. More precisely, only 5.28m (52.8 lakhs) new connections were added in the last seven years, from 2.54m (25.4 lakhs) in May 2014 to 7.82m (78.2 lakhs) on April 30 (2021).

Such is oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan's pride in his achievements that he ordered the oil ministry to prepare a detailed breakdown of the increase in gas retail, pipeline, consumption and LNG stations across India. "The idea is to showcase the government's achievements," we hear.

In four colourful presentations emblazoned with smiling poses of a serene-looking Modi and entitled '#7years of Sewa', the oil ministry celebrates the increase in city gas infrastructure since May 2014. In May 2014, the country had only 34 licenced geographical areas covering 66 districts.

But in the past seven years or by April 30 (2021), the number had increased to 232, covering 407 districts. As with CNG stations: 938 in May (2014) to 3101 by April (2021).

So too with gas connections to businesses and factories: 28,000 in May 2014 but 44,142 by April 30 (2021). Pradhan also celebrates the rise in gas consumption by CGD companies: up from 15.38m cm/d in May 2014 to 25.29m cm/d in May 2021.