Delhi government moves SC on centre’s gas allocation policy

New Delhi, Jan 29: The Delhi government Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking contempt proceedings against the centre for pursuing a gas distribution policy contrary to the court’s direction to give priority to the transport sector in the allocation of CNG.

The state government said the court had directed that the central government should give “priority to the transport sector” and compressed natural gas (CNG) would be first allocated to the transport sector in Delhi and in other polluted cities and only thereafter, the available surplus, if any, could be allocated to the industries.

However, Delhi consumers were not getting their total requirement of domestic gas because the centre was allocating gas to industries, contrary to the April 5, 2002, direction by the apex court.

The government sought an order for initiating contempt proceedings against the centre for its “wilful and deliberate violations” of the apex court’s directions.

The government also sought the quashing of the Nov 14, 2013, policy guidelines that CNG will be supplied uniformly to all stations across the country.

The government contended that a policy that provides for uniform supply of CNG to all stations across the country would effectively result in reducing the allocation of CNG for the transport sector in Delhi.

As a consequence, the Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) would be forced to import gas at much higher prices to meet the demand of the national capital, the Delhi government said.

This in turn would jack up CNG prices which are even otherwise extremely high. This would make “un-remunerative to encourage CNG-fuelled transport”, it argued.

It said that “by way of these guidelines, the amount of domestic natural gas that is available/allocated to IGL has been reduced”.

Contrary to the 2002 direction of the apex court that CNG should be made available to the transport sector on priority basis, the petroleum ministry was allocating 80 percent to power and fertilizer industries, the Delhi government said.

The government also told the court that refineries, petrochemical, iron and steel industries too were getting allocated natural gas.

As a result, 90 percent of the “indigenously produced” natural gas was being earmarked for industries and only about eight percent is allocated to the CNG sector in the country for the transport and domestic sector, the government said.

This has widened the gap between the actual consumption of natural gas and its allocation.

“Due to gap between the actual consumption of natural gas for CNG and domestic purposes in the NCT of Delhi and the actual allocation/supply, prices of CNG (transport) and PNG (domestic) have increased significantly not only in Delhi but also in the NCR region,” the Delhi government said in its plea.

Prices in neighbouring towns are even higher than in Delhi, the petition said.

“The steep increase in prices of CNG and PNG has an adverse effect on the common man already reeling under the inflationary pressure,” the government said.

Such a policy was not only unfair to users of CNG vehicles, including auto-rickshaws, buses and taxis, but was also a “huge dampener for other vehicle users to switch over to CNG mode”.

IANS