[Editorial Analysis] Gas pipeline from Kochi to Mangaluru: hurdles crossed

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Kochi-Mangaluru natural gas pipeline
Mains level: Infrastructure

Context:

• Prime Minister inaugrated the Kochi-Mangaluru natural gas pipeline of the Gail Authority of India Limited (GAIL). The key infrastructure project has come about after overcoming protests in Kerala, misconceptions about safety, and a long delay.

The terminal, since 2013:

• The pipeline will deliver liquefied natural gas (LNG) sourced from a terminal in Kochi built by Petronet LNG in 2013. However, for want of pipeline connectivity, it could not be utilised until now.

• The terminal’s objective is to supply natural gas for domestic and industrial use in Kerala and South India.

• It is South India’s first LNG-receiving, regasification and re-loading terminal with a capacity of five million metric tonnes per annum.

Phases and sections:

• The project, conceived in 2007, envisages pipelines from Kochi to Mangaluru and to Bengaluru.

• In the first phase, a 44-km line was laid in Kochi, linking the terminal with local industrial users, including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. To take natural gas to domestic consumers, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) entered into a pact with Adani Gas Ltd.

• The second phase of the pipeline passes through seven districts of Kerala to carry natural gas from Kochi to Bengaluru via Palakkad, with another leg taking it to Mangaluru. The Kochi-Mangaluru line (444 km) has been opened while the Bengaluru leg is nearing completion.

Delays since 2007:

• In 2009, the then government gave single-window clearance to the project, which should have been completed in 2013.

• But local people wanted the alignment along a sea route rather than through inhabited areas; they felt the pipeline was a ticking gas bomb.

• In 2011, due to large opposition, the government suspended the survey. GAIL too suspended all contracts.

• In 2016, then then Chief Minister placed the GAIL pipeline in his 100-days projects. The Centre too wanted Kerala to give top priority to the project as the LNG terminal in Kochi was incurring huge losses.

• Compensation amount was increased for the acquired land, and reduced the width of the land to be acquired was reduced.

• After laying the pipeline, farmers were allowed to cultivate, except deep-rooted crops.

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