Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan has called upon entrepreneurs to take advantage of the policy reforms brought in the energy sector. He said that capital requirement for setting up of retail outlets had been reduced from Rs 20 billion to Rs 2.5 billion, and with even start-ups now being allowed to take part. He said that retail outlets could not only sell the traditional fossil fuels but also dispense gas and put up electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
The minister said this at a ceremony to dedicate 56 compressed natural gas (CNG) stations to the nation on Thursday. These CNG stations are in 13 states and one union territory, viz. Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Chandigarh.
Pradhan observed that in the last six years, the number of CNG stations had increased from 947 to over 2,300. He said that presently more than 400 districts of the country were being covered by the city gas distribution (CGD) network. Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is preparing to come out with 11th round of CGD bidding round, after which 50-100 additional districts will get the clean fuel.
Pradhan said that India was moving towards becoming a gas-based economy. He said that the government was committed to providing infrastructure to facilitate this, and a 17,000 km long pipeline is being laid for the purpose. He said that the places like the Northeastern states and eastern India, which were deprived of the access to gas, were also being covered. Efforts were underway to complete the National Gas Grid in a time bound manner.
He said that the Central Government with the spirit of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” has worked to usher in a blue flame revolution in the country. Over 280 million households had been provided LPG connections and an ambitious plan to provide 50 million households with piped natural gas (PNG) connection was underway. The minister expressed his gratitude to the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), for facilitating growth of compressed bio-gas (CBG) ecosystem in the country. He said that CBG had been included in the priority sector by the RBI, which will help the entrepreneurs to get cheaper loans.
Talking about the waste to energy concept, the minister said that India, despite being very low in per capita pollution, had taken steps to adopt the renewable sources of energy in a big way. He specially mentioned about the efforts being made by Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to adopt clean fuel, to reduce the pollution level in the National Capital Region (NCR) during the winters. He mentioned about the recent initiative of the Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL), NTPC and the South Delhi Municipal Corp. (SDMC) to convert the municipal waste at Ghazipur into gas.
The minister appealed to the entrepreneurs to take advantage of policy reforms, compete and bring in innovation in fuel marketing. He also spoke about the recent initiative of battery swapping station set up in Chandigarh, which could be replicated elsewhere as well. He also called upon the CGD players to set up CBG stations for which he said that cheaper and easily available raw material was abundantly available, and the oil marketing companies OMCs were providing uptake guarantee at remunerative prices.
The minister said that India was one of the largest energy consumers in the world, and this would further go up as the country marched ahead on the path of progress. Recalling the prime minister’s clarion call of energy justice and Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Pradhan said that energy available to the people should be sustainable, accessible and affordable to ensure energy security.