Chennai and few other cities wait for piped gas just got longer with tribunal’s split verdict
The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) has ordered a status quo on the bids for city piped gas distribution (CGD) network awarded last year in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Puducherry districts.
The award of bids was challenged by two firms Adani Gas Limited and IMC Ltd on the grounds of criteria used. A two-member bench of the APTEL delivered a split verdict on the case and referred it to a third judge for deciding.
“As there is divergent views/opinion on merits of the appeal, the status quo order shall continue till the reference is decided by the third member,” Justice Manjula Chellur, Chairperson, APTEL, and B.N. Talukdar, Technical Member, APTEL, said in their order.
Last September, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board had announced the details of the successful bidders under the 9th city gas distribution bidding round.
Torrent Gas Private Limited was named the winning bidder for Chennai and Tiruvallur districts, while AG&P LNG Marketing Pvt Ltd was announced as the winning bidder for Kancheepuram district.
Torrent Gas was also named as winner in the Karaikal and Nagapattinam districts and Consortium of SKN Haryana City Gas Distribution Pvt. Ltd and Chopra Electricals were named the winning bidder for Puducherry district.
Adani Gas Limited and IMC Ltd, who were also the bidders, challenged the award citing discrepancy in one of the criteria pertaining to the number of domestic piped gas connections (PNG).
According to the proceedings, five criteria were specified as items of bidding — transportation rate for city gas distribution, transportation rate of compressed natural gas, number of CNG stations, number of domestic piped natural gas connections and amount of inch-kilometre of steel pipelines.
Both firms pointed out in their appeal that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board had determined the lower limit of PNG connections to be 2% of the total households (Census 2011 data) and the maximum limit to be 100% of the total households (Census 2011 data) with clarifications that anything beyond 100% may be treated as an unreasonable quote. However, they said the winning bidders quoted the number of PNG connections in excess of 100% of household as per the 2011 Census and wanted the award to be quashed.
Justice Manjula Chellur ruled in favour of the firms, while Talukdar ruled that the 2011 Census figure of households does not have anything to do with the evaluation of the bids and hence, further allegation on considering different statistical figures, etc., in finding out the reasonableness of the bids, etc., did not have any merit to be considered.