The GAIL pipeline project which had triggered many political controversies in Kerala was inaugurated on Tuesday, December 5.
While hailing the completion of GAIL's Kochi-Mangalore natural gas pipeline, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that it is a symbol of the Left Democratic Front government’s delivery of its poll promises.
Political controversies, natural disasters like consecutive floods and the COVID-19 pandemic had posed hurdles in the implementation of the project. The 450-km-long natural gas pipeline was launched in 2009 at an estimated cost of Rs 2,915 crore and was to be commissioned in 2014. However, GAIL had to stop the project in September 2014 due to several obstacles. After the Pinarayi Vijayan government came to power two years later, in 2016, it worked to “clear obstacles by proactively addressing the genuine concerns of the people”.
Noting that GAIL had to stop the project in September 2014 due to several obstacles, the CM said, “GAIL authorities also stood by us in making this project come to life. I am extremely happy that our combined efforts have borne fruits.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 450-km natural pipeline between Kochi and Mangalore in the virtual event attended by dignitaries including governors and chief ministers of Kerala and Karnataka, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and authorities of GAIL.
The pipeline will carry natural gas from Kochi in Kerala through Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod districts to Mangaluru in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka.
The current LDF government had faced strong protests from various sections of the society, when it began to move ahead with the project. In November 2017, a group of people at Mukkom in Kozhikode district had staged a fierce protest against the project. They feared that the project would displace some 600 families in that area itself. Like in Mukkom, at some places, people were concerned about their houses and land acquisition. Similar protests were held in Puthuvypin as well.
The government, however, addressed the concerns of the people and called for an all party meeting. The project, therefore, proving an example of the government considering the people’s concerns. The state government had ensured the right amount of compensation to the people whose land had been acquired. Also, the safety concerns of the people had been considered while implementing the project.
Further highlighting the difficulties in the completion of the project, the CM said, “It was a daunting task to lay the pipeline through the thickly populated areas, hills and waterbodies,” he said, adding, “the project will help significantly improve quality of the life of people in the state.
The CM also assured in the meeting that Koottanad-Walayar stretch of the project to facilitate gas supply to industries in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu will also be completed soon.
Officials said the pipeline will bring convenient and uninterrupted supply of environment friendly and affordable fuel in the form of piped natural gas (PNG) to households, commercial units and compressed natural gas (CNG) across different city gas distribution (CGD) areas in different geographical areas.
The pipeline will offer clean industrial fuel and feedstock for petrochemical and fertilised sectors and provide an opportunity for multiple gas-based industries to emerge, thus, bringing about socio-economic benefits to the people of these states and creating direct and indirect job opportunities, they said.