India is working towards bridging the gap between demand and supply of resources such as water, oil and gas by building an adequate pipeline network. In order to cater to the increasing demand, augmentation of the current pipeline infrastructure is required. The government, municipal corporations and oil and gas supply companies are implementing several measures aimed at expanding network coverage, ensuring round-the-clock supply.
Water pipeline infrastructure
Water scarcity is a major issue that affects the environment, industry, economy and quality of life. Factors such as population growth, climate change and ageing pipeline infrastructure can be attributed for the same. The ageing water distribution infrastructure is a significant contributing factor to the problem of water scarcity. The pipeline network was established many years ago, during a period of considerably lower demand and a smaller population. As a result of leaks in the pipelines, water is eventually lost because the pipeline network is unable to handle the pressure of the growing demand.
Utilities in India are working towards upgrading and maintaining the age-old pipeline infrastructure in their respective cities. By managing pipeline infrastructure, utilities can promptly detect and repair leaks in a timely manner and ensure the protection of vital assets and the environment. The government, with programmes such as the Jal Jeevan Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), is also working towards providing universal piped water supply to households with a number of new water supply projects, such as freshwater treatment, water distribution systems in underdeveloped areas, sustainable water supply in terms of both quantity and quality, smart solutions such as supervisory control and data acquisition, and incentives for last-mile connectivity to households.
Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, as of October 20, 2023, around 70 per cent of rural households in India have been provided tap water connections. States and union territories such as Goa, Andaman & Nicobar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Haryana, Telangana, Puducherry, Gujarat, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have achieved 100 per cent rural household coverage under this mission. The plan of the government is to provide 100 per cent tap water connection all over rural India by 2024.
Meanwhile, under AMRUT, many urban local bodies (ULBs) are undertaking initiatives to upgrade water supply distribution in their respective cities. For instance, the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority has approved a proposal worth around Rs 1.25 billion to lay a 20-km water supply pipeline from the Basai water treatment plant to supply adequate potable water to Palam Vihar and adjoining areas of the Dwarka Expressway. In a similar development, the Madurai Municipal Corporation is laying drinking water supply pipeline to bridge the gap between demand and supply of water. The current requirement of the city is around 300 million litres per day (mld), but it only receives around 165 mld of water. The 1,668 km pipeline work is expected to improve the distribution network in the city and resolve the problem of water shortage.
New-age technological initiatives will play a major role in optimising maintenance schedules, reducing operational costs, and enhancing the efficiency and longevity of the pipeline infrastructure. To this end, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras has launched Swasth AI, a robot that can detect leaks in water and sewer pipes. This robot is expected to help maintain and manage the entire distribution network through one accessible interface, providing data visualisation support and enabling stakeholders to easily access and interpret data relevant to their specific needs.
Utilities are using asset management techniques more frequently in the water industry to evaluate and maintain their pipeline assets. In order to supply clean drinking water to every household in the country round the clock, they are also concentrating on building a robust pipeline network. As of September 2023, according to India Infrastructure Research, pipeline network lengths of around 4,500 km and 160,000 km are expected to be added in the water and wastewater treatment segments, respectively. This is expected to create a demand for high-density polyethylene, ductile iron, galvanised iron, RCC, steel and pre-stressed concrete pipe manufacturers.
Oil and gas pipeline infrastructure
The government is focusing on increasing the share of natural gas in the primary energy mix, provide access to clean and green fuel throughout the country, connect gas sources to major demand centres and ensure availability of gas to city gas distribution (CGD) centres. To this end, it launched the One Nation One Gas Grid scheme, which is aimed at developing natural gas infrastructure in the country. According to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), as of June 2023, over 33,000 km of natural gas pipeline network has been authorised across India. Of this, over 23,000 km is already operational and more than 12,000 km is under construction. The under-construction common carrier pipelines include Kakinada–Vizag–Srikakulam, Ennore-Nellore, the North-East natural gas pipeline grid and Hazaribagh-Ranchi.
Similarly, efforts are ongoing for the expansion of oil pipeline infrastructure to meet the growing demand. According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, as of September 1, 2023, India has more than 10,000 km of crude oil pipelines, with a total capacity of over 150 mmtpa.
In an effort to expand the supply of oil and its products, Indian Oil Corporation Limited is developing the Paradip-Hyderabad project starting from Odisha to Telangana. The 1,212 km pipeline project is being laid for evacuating white oil products from Paradip refinery to Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana. The project is expected to be completed by March 2024.
Meanwhile, the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga pipeline started supplying gas in April 2023 to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal as well as to the north-eastern region. This project has benefits such as the cheapest transportation of gas. Under the unified tariff regulations notified by PNGRB, the transportation tariff has been cut by about 50 per cent to Rs 99.90 per million British thermal units for the eastern region, helping make the clean fuel more affordable.
The government has set ambitious targets for multiple pipeline infrastructure projects. The target is to raise the share of gas in the energy mix to 15 per cent by 2030. To this end, the re-gasification capacity is expected to expand considerably, with new terminals and pipelines coming up in the future. According to PNGRB, India’s gas pipeline network has grown to around 23,000 km and is expected to reach over 33,000 km over the next four to five years. Further, with the completion of the 12th CGD bidding round, the entire country is expected to have CGD connection.
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