National gas pipeline PSU Gail India, which completed the Kochi-Mangalore gas pipeline last week after long delays, is hopeful of completing the first leg of the Kochi-Bengaluru line in January 2021, according to company officials.
The first leg of the 620-km-long Kochi-Bengaluru gas pipeline begins from Kuttanad in Palakkad and extends up to Valayar, which is on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. The work on this 95-km line is progressing at a frenetic pace. “We have laid the pipes and pressure testing is being done on the 95-km long Kuttanad-Valayar stretch. We hope to complete it by January, P Murugesan, executive director in-charge of the southern region at Gail, told PTI from Bengaluru.
Once testing is over, the pipeline will supply natural gas to Palakkad town as well as to Kanjikode and other industrial estates in the district, he said. The Kochi-Bengaluru line was also announced along with the Kochi-Mangalore line that is now awaiting official commissioning, but got inordinately delayed due to public and political pressure which held back land acquisition for long.
The project was initially expected to cost Rs 2,500 crore but the cost is set to escalate due to the delays and after the management agreed to pay higher compensation to farmers for the land.
While the Kuttanad-Palakkad stretch will be completed anytime from now, the line will go live up to up to Valayar by January and in Coimbatore by March, which is 280-km long. The line passes through seven districts in Tamil Nadu–Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Tirupur, Krishnagiri, Dharmagiri and Hosur. While the Krishnagiri stretch is almost complete, the work on the Valayar-Coimbatore leg is also on, Murugesan said.
The 444-km long Kochi-Mangalore pipeline was launched in 2009 at an estimated cost of Rs 2,915 crore, and was to be commissioned in 2014. But opposition on safety and commercial grounds wherein the land price was the main hurdle, both from political parties and the public, ensured that the project lingered on. This led to the project cost nearly doubling to over Rs 5,750 crore. Kuttanad is the main junction for both the projects as from here the line bifurcates to Mangalore and Bengaluru.