GAIL India Ltd and its affiliates have set a target to provide 1.144 million piped cooking gas connections in the current fiscal as they chase what now looks like a highly improbable target of connecting 10 million households with environment-friendly fuel by next year. GAIL and its joint ventures such as the ones that retail CNG and piped cooking gas in Delhi and Mumbai had achieved just 60 per cent of the target to give 1.125 million connections in the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to company's target document reviewed by.
In March 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pledged to provide piped natural gas connections to 10 million households "in the next four years". India had about 2.6 million households using gas received from a pipeline in the kitchen in 2015 and the government was keen for a massive expansion of piped cooking gas to help cut down the usage of subsidized LPG.
LPG thus freed can be used to replace kerosene and forest wood for cooking in rural and remote areas. Later, the 10 million deadline was pushed back by a year to 2020. But even this delayed deadline now looks improbable to achieve.
Together with other private city gas distribution firms, piped cooking gas users in India rose from 4.265 million in March 2018 to over 5.2 million a year later. This has risen to 5.417 million as on September 1, according to the oil ministry's Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC).
Industry officials said the biggest push for piped cooking gas use would come when entities that have been authorized by Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) in two bid rounds in the last one-year start work. When they come on stream, such users will jump many fold, they said.
With a licence to retail CNG and piped gas to household kitchens given out for 136 geographical areas or GAs in last one year, the coverage of city gas network would be 70 per cent of country's population, they said, adding household kitchens getting piped cooking gas would reach 50 million by 2030 once full rollout is achieved in all the cities licensed.
To achieve Prime Minister's target of 10 million piped natural gas users by 2020, a massive 4.5 million connections will have to be given in one year. But the biggest city gas distribution group GAIL is only targeting 1.144 million in year to March 31, 2020, according to the company document. This target comprises 0.34 million new connections each in the national capital region and Mumbai and adjoining towns, and another 0.143 million in Pune.
This target compares to 1.102 million piped natural gas users in the national capital region and 1.277 million in Mumbai and adjoining cities, according to the GAIL document. In 2018-19, GAIL and its affiliates had targeted 0.3 million connections in the national capital region (NCR) and Mumbai and adjoining cities. Against this, Indraprastha Gas Ltd issued a record 0.21 million connections while Mahanagar Gas Ltd enrolled 0.168 million new users.
Pune currently has 0.168 million users getting piped natural gas in their kitchens. Other cities where GAIL and its affiliates are targeting new users include Kanpur, Agra and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, Indore and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Kakinada, Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad in Telangana.