The slow pace in recent years has been primarily due to the legal tussle that erupted between the regulator and Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL), which supplies piped gas to Delhi and some of its surrounding areas. When the PNGRB, set up in 2007, sought to auction the licence for supplying piped gas to Ghaziabad, neighbouring Delhi, which IGL had expected to bag as a matter of course, the latter took the regulator to court. It questioned the regulator's authority to issue licences at all, since a key section in the Act setting up the PNGRB had not been notified. The licensing process, and thereby the expansion of piped gas across the country, was thus slowed down. The matter reached the Supreme Court before the section concerned was finally notified by the Petroleum Ministry in November, which has considerably weakened the IGL's position.
But other players have also taken the regulator to court, and their issues remain to be resolved. The last auction, for instance, was completed in February this year. The switch to piped gas may be overdue, but now things are moving. And the benefits will be far-reaching.
Anilesh S. Mahajan