Braving All Odds, GAIL Vows to Implement LNG Project

In its second coming, Gas Authority of India (GAIL) has vowed to implement the LNG pipeline project in Kerala at any cost. But even though the situation remains highly conducive, geographical challenges in the state pose a major hurdle to the company. In order to lay the 508km-long pipeline in the state, the company has to factor in 830 crossings, including roads, water bodies and railway lines. Simply put, there are at least two hurdles every km, which is the highest anywhere in the country. Out of these total crossings, GAIL pipeline has to cross 530 roads in Kerala, meaning that the time lag will be huge.

Currently, the laying of the pipeline is under way in Palakkad and Kasargod districts and in other districts, including Kozhikode and Malappuram--which had earlier witnessed opposition from the locals, where the work will resume soon. Plans are afoot by the PSU major to clear the work in the October-May window which is the only feasible period in Kerala to carry out such works.

Nonetheless, GAIL officials are pretty confident that they can surmount any hurdle since the whole-hearted support extended by the state government of late has been a source of considerable encouragement.

"We have been instructed to continue the pipeline laying work under any circumstances.

The tender formalities will be finalised soon and the work will be in full swing soon. Now, the state government has given us the assurance that the project will roll out at any cost."

The adversities we face now are Monsoon, numerous crossings and water-logging at Right of Use land sites.

But once the work becomes fully-fledged, there will be five contractors for every 100 km and each of them will employ around 100-150 workers. Hence, we are confident of completing the pipeline laying in a time-bound manner," a top GAIL official told Express.

In fact, the laying of the pipelines by GAIL, which would ferry natural gas from the LNG Terminal in Puthuvypeen to Karnataka, had resumed after a two-year gap in June. On the resumption of GAIL pipeline project in Kerala, Chief Secretary(CS) Jiji Thompson said that even though work in Kasargod has started, the project will not serve its purpose until and unless the entire pipeline has been laid so as to link it with the National Natural Gas grid.

"We face major issues in Kasargod and Malappuram districts. After the completion of the local body polls we are hopeful of resolving the problems there. The state government is quite keen on completing the project at the earliest," the CS added.

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