The PNG revolution in Indian Kitchens
The `LPG anxiety’ is something most households are familiar with. As the dull red gas cylinder in the kitchen empties out, there follows a routine of frantic calls to book the LPG cylinder, follow-up enquiry calls, the worried wait for the delivery man, the fear that the much awaited cylinder will arrive just as you step outside for a spot of shopping; yes, the LPG cylinder does add a spot of drama to our lives on a regular basis.
But several households in urban India are today choosing the better alternative – piped natural gas. Piped natural gas is delivered by City Gas Distribution companies that are authorised by the Central Government. The setting up of the companies is regulated by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board. As per statistics released by the board, the city gas distribution sector has shown good growth. At the beginning of the Xth plan, there were just two cities that had piped natural gas. By 2005-2006, the coverage had grown to 10 cities with pipelines covering around 6000 km.
Given the advantages of piped natural gas and the benefits that it will bring to the economy, the government is keen to develop this network even further. Efforts are on to provide piped natural gas to 200 cities by 2015. Kerala GAIL Gas Limited, the joint venture between Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation and Gail India, which will install a city gas distribution system in Kerala, is a part of this effort.
Benefits to the Consumer
The government’s efforts to expand the number of cities connected to the piped natural gas network are commendable in view of the enormous consumer benefits.
Safety: Natural gas’ physical and chemical properties make very safe for domestic use. Natural gas is lighter than air. In case of a leak, it rises up and quickly dissipates, thus reducing the chances of a fire or explosion. It also has a very high ignition temperature. In addition, the company installing the piped natural gas ensures that there are sufficient safety valves to cut off the gas supply to your kitchen in case of any emergency.
Earth-friendly: Natural gas is a mixture of methane and hydrocarbons. Thus it burns almost completely, making it a clean fuel. This also benefits your cooking appliances as maintenance cost and cleaning effort are reduced.
Economy: Piped natural gas is economical because you only have to pay for the amount you use. In comparison to the pre-paid LPG cylinder, you pay after use. With the recent move to reduce the number of subsidised cylinders available to each consumer, piped natural gas will also work out to be cheaper than LPG. If a household uses 12 cylinders a year, the average LPG bill as per the new rules would work out to around Rs 7000 per year. On the other hand, according to statistics released by PNG companies, an average household of four people consumes approximately 15 scm per month, the price of which is an average of Rs 20 per unit. Therefore, the annual fuel bill with PNG will be around Rs 3,600.
Convenience: Having a piped natural gas connection means that you never run out of gas. Just turn on the knob of your gas stove and you have access to cooking fuel 24×7. This saves you the hassle of booking a refill cylinder, waiting for the delivery man and also saves you space in the kitchen. There is also no possibility of pilferage. Many of us have at times been cheated by unscrupulous agencies which send over half filled cylinders. With piped natural gas, there is no possibility of being cheated.
Value added: Having a PNG connection also adds to the rental or sale value of your home. This is because having a PNG connection is an additional asset that is attractive to tenants or buyers.
A hassle free delivery system, economy and convenience thus make piped natural gas an extremely attractive alternative for consumers.