Vehicles wait in line to be refueled with compressed natural gas at an Indraprastha Gas Ltd. station in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

India Starts Biggest Gas Distribution Auction To Make Cities Cleaner

India, home to cities with the world’s most toxic air, kick-started its largest auction to distribute natural gas in more urban areas as it looks to cut emissions by switching to cleaner auto and kitchen fuels.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board has started the bidding process by offering nearly 86 geographical areas comprising 156 districts, according to information on its website. In the last nine years, the board identified 101 such areas and awarded contracts for 52.

India Starts Biggest Gas Distribution Auction To Make Cities Cleaner

The country ranks alongside China in having the world’s deadliest air pollution, according to a study by Boston-based Health Effects Institute. Toxic fumes, largely emitted by coal-fired power plants and automobiles, caused 1.1 million deaths each in both the neighbouring nations in 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is looking to fast-track expansion of city gas distribution grid to increase the share of natural gas in the kitchen and auto fuels mix from 6 percent to 20 percent by 2030. That would help reduce emissions as part of the global pledge to keep the average increase in temperature below 2-degree celsius.

The auction will help city gas distributors like Indraprastha Gas Ltd., Gujarat Gas Ltd., and Mahanagar Gas Ltd. increase their network. The large-scale development of gas distribution grid provides tremendous growth opportunities to companies, said brokerage Antique Stock Broking.

Gujarat Gas is the largest operator in India with rights in 22 districts of Gujarat, union territory of Dadra Nagar Haveli and Thane. Indraprastha Gas has presence in Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad regions, while Mahanagar Gas distributes gas in Mumbai, Thane urban and adjoining areas and in Raigad district of Maharashtra.

India Starts Biggest Gas Distribution Auction To Make Cities Cleaner

Indraprastha Gas could actively participate for regions offered in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to leverage existing infrastructure and connectivity in adjoining areas, Edelweiss said. Mahanagar Gas could be interested in high-potential areas like Nashik and Aurangabad, it said.