Much-hyped gas pipeline project remains out of Govt focus during past over one yr

Land acquisition at snail’s pace despite enactment of Spl law
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Apr 4: Notwithstanding its immense importance for Jammu and Kashmir, the much-hyped Bhatinda-Jammu-Srinagar gas pipeline project has remained out of State Government’s focus during the past over one year despite the fact that GSPL India Gasnet Limited (GIGL) is soft-paddling on finalization of route and acquisition of right of user in land from Lakhanpur up to Srinagar for unknown reasons.
In the year 2007, the Union Government established Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board, which is the authority to grant authorization for the development of pipelines and city gas distribution network. The Board authorizes entities to develop city and local gas distribution network based on techno-commercial viability.
As per the provisions of PNGRB Act, 2006, the Board in July 2011 sanctioned Bhatinda-Jammu-Srinagar gas pipeline project and entrusted the task of laying 725 kilometers long gas pipeline to GSPL India Gasnet Limited. This decision was welcomed by the State Government and accordingly Union Petroleum Ministry was approached a number of times for early completion of all the formalities like identification of route and acquisition of right of user in land from Lakhanpur to Srinagar by GSPL India Gasnet Limited so that laying of gas pipeline begins as early as possible.
Though GSPL India Gasnet Limited (GIGL) initially showed much interest in carrying out spade work in Jammu and Kashmir yet with the passage of time the entity slowed down its all activities and even State Government stopped exerting pressure on GIGL through its representatives in J&K and Union Petroleum Ministry, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
“During the past over one year the project of immense importance has remained out of the focus of everybody including State Government and not even single step has been initiated by GIGL with regard to finalization of route of the entire gas pipeline and acquisition of right of user in land from Lakhanpur up to Srinagar”, sources informed.
They further informed that during the past nearly seven years route of the gas pipeline has been finalized only in Kathua and Samba districts but land acquisition process for 67 kilometer route from Chak Devian village in Kathua district to Smailpur in Samba district has yet not reached logical conclusion.
“This is notwithstanding the fact that on the insistence of GIGL the State Government had enacted Jammu and Kashmir Underground Public Utilities (Acquisition of Rights of User in Land), Act in 2014. This special legislation has been enacted to provide for acquisition of right of user in land for laying of gas pipeline and other underground public utilities in the State”, sources regretted.
As per the sources, no route for the gas pipeline has been identified beyond Smailpur up to Srinagar and only reconnaissance has been conducted by the GIGL. “About one year back GIGL had proposed that corridor for laying gas pipeline shall be given along the National Highway but what happened thereafter remains a mystery”, they added.
“Even process of obtaining necessary No Objection Certificates from concerned Government departments particularly Forest Department has yet not been started by GIGL”, sources further informed.
When contacted, a representative of GIGL in J&K said, “at present work is going on in Punjab and thereafter focus will entirely be shifted to Jammu and Kashmir”. He also admitted that land acquisition process beyond Smailpur in Samba has yet not been initiated.
However, sources said that there was no justification behind not executing work till completion of gas pipeline laying work in Punjab. “At least land acquisition process and connected exercise should have been carried out simultaneously in J&K so that laying of gas pipeline begins soon after completion of work in Punjab”, they added.
“It is the high time for the State Government to vociferously take up issue with the Union Petroleum Ministry for its intervention in early completion of all the formalities for laying of gas pipeline in J&K”, sources stressed, adding “GIGL should also be asked for taking early decisions on city gas network, which is the ultimate aim of gas pipeline project”.


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