The National Green Tribunal (NGT), eastern zone bench, has given the chief secretary (CS) 15 days to decide whether Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) should be entrusted with natural gas distribution in the city through a pipeline by itself or a joint venture company should be set up for this. The gas major plans to complete its 2,539km long pipeline from Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia by 2020. It proposes to distribute gas in seven cities, including Kolkata, enroute.
Environment activist Subhas Datta had moved the NGT in September last year, to introduce natural gas in Kolkata. The green bench had passed several directions, after which the state government and GAIL have been at loggerheads with technical issues regarding the CNG distribution. In August, the NGT had directed the CS to take up the matter with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and GAIL. When this didn’t happen, the bench directed senior officials including the CS to attend a meeting convened by it on December 7. Nearly 30 people attended the meeting while the CS chose to stay away.
On Friday, the bench of justice SP Wangdi and professor PC Mishra expressed displeasure at this. “We didn’t convene the meeting to grace or glorify us. We are keen to introduce green and clean fuel in Kolkata,” the bench observed before going through an affidavit submitted by GAIL.