NEW DELHI : As part of government’s focus on India’s northeast, the Union government will provide ₹ 5,559 crore towards the construction of the North East Gas Grid project across the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved the marquee project of Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited “with viability Gap Funding/ Capital Grant at 60% of the estimated cost of ₹ 9,265 crore (Including interest during construction)."
Currently, the country’s northeast region is in turmoil because of protests against the government’s contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.
India is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China and the latest move is in sync with the government’s Act East policy, with to transform the northeast region into a gateway to Southeast Asia. The plans include the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, that will help improve connectivity between India and Thailand and others in the neighbourhood, and a global electricity grid that may initially aim to link countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam with the Indian sub-continent as part of an evolving energy security architecture.
“The Capital Grant will provide natural gas supplies to various types of consumers viz. Industrial, PNG (Domestic), CNG (Transport) etc. and would immensely help in substituting the liquid fuels. The pipeline grid would ensure reliability and uninterrupted natural gas supplies to the consumers which otherwise gets severely affected due to various reasons in this part of the country," the government said in a statement.
The 1,656 km gas pipeline project will also help improve the future geo-economics of the region. Indradhanush Gas Grid Limited (IGGL) is a joint venture company of state run Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, GAIL (India) Ltd, Oil India Ltd and Numaligarh Refinery Ltd.
The National Democratic Alliance government has been pushing for a gas-based economy. India plans to connect 10 million households to piped natural gas by 2020.
Gas accounts for around 6.2% of India’s primary energy mix against the global average of 24%. The government plans to increase this to 15% by 2030. India’s gas demand is expected to be driven by fertilizer, power, city gas distribution and steel sectors.
With an eye on China, India is also working on a slew of road and bridge projects to improve connectivity with Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. These include road networks connecting Aizawl in Mizoram with Kaladan in Myanmar and Imphal in Manipur with Tamu, also in Myanmar. India is also expediting the South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) road connectivity programme. Japan has also joined hands with India to aggressively develop infrastructure projects in the region with the setting up of the India-Japan Coordination Forum for Development of northeast.
India has been instrumental in implementing the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, which will run from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar. The plan also involves extending it to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and the project forms an important part of India articulating its role in the proposed transportation architecture in the region and beyond.