Prime Minister Narendra Modi said close to 400 districts or 70 per cent of India's population will have city gas distribution (CGD) facility in next 2 to 3 years and compressed natural gas (CNG) stations will increase to 10,000 by end of this decade.
"Thousands of CNG stations and CGD facility across India will reduce pollution and strengthen our position under the COP21 Climate Change agreement0," the PM said at the foundation laying ceremony of CGD network in 129 districts and launch of 10th bidding round of the same.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) had recently awarded licenses for 78 out of the 86 geographical areas put on offer in the 9th round of bidding. Of the areas awarded in the 9th round, PM laid the foundation stones for 65, made up of 129 districts. The areas in poll-bound states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana were left out due to the model code of conduct.
In the ninth bid round, 86 areas spread over 174 districts in 22 states and union territories and covering 26 per cent of India's population and 24 per cent of its area was offered. Of these, 78 have been awarded to companies like Adani Gas, Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Torrent Gas.
"In the 10th bid round for giving licences to retail CNG to automobiles and piped natural gas to household kitchens, 50 geographical areas or GAs spread over 124 districts in 14 states, covering 24 per cent of India's population and 18 per cent of its area, are being offered," PNGRB Chairman Dinesh K Sarraf said at the event.
Modi said households with piped cooking gas connections would reach 20 million after network in cities awarded up to 10th round is completed. Currently, there are over 32 lakh piped consumers. He said CNG stations too would more than double to 10,000.
Modi also informed that there were 24 lakh piped gas connections till 2014 and now the number crossed 20 million. He added the oil sector is an example of "reform, perform and transform" philosophy of the NDA government.
“The government has distributed 120 million LPG connections in last four year, including 60 million under Ujjwala scheme, which increased the domestic gas coverage to 90 per cent in the country. The domestic LPG coverage was 55 per cent four year ago (when BJP government took over in 2014). About 130 million LPG connections were given in last 60 years till 2014,” said the PM.
Speaking on the occasion, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the city gas licensing rounds are a step towards making India a gas-based economy. “Gas is an environment-friendly fuel which is cheaper than not just liquid fuels such as petrol and diesel but is also cheaper than subsidised LPG,” he said.
Cities on offer in the 10th round include Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, Muzaffarpur in Bihar, Kaithal in Haryana, Mysore and Gulbarga in Karnataka, Allapuza and Kollam in Kerala, Ujjain, Gwalior and Morena in Madhya Pradesh, Jhansi and Basti in Uttar Pradesh, Firozpur and Hoshiarpur in Punjab, Ajmer and Jalor in Rajasthan, Nainital in Uttarakhand and Darjeeling and Howrah in West Bengal.