New Delhi: Punjab has become the latest state in the country to boast of CNG supplies after the government approved licensee, Jay Madhok Energy, commissioned a CNG outlet in Jalandhar and plans to start the same in Ludhiana by March.

With the start of CNG supplies in Jalandhar, Punjab joins states like Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra to have compressed natural gas (CNG), an environment-friendly automobile fuel that is considered cheaper than diesel. “We have started a CNG retail outlet in Jalandhar and plan to add two more by March. Also, three retail stations would be started in Ludhiana by around the same time," said an official of Jay Madhok Energy Pvt Ltd.

By the end of the year, the number of outlets would cross 24, he said. The government plans to expand city gas distribution to 300 cities in the country as part of plans to increase the share of gas in the country’s energy mix to 15 per cent by 2020 from about 6.5% now to curb pollution and carbon emissions. According to Oil Ministry’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, there are 1,282 CNG stations in the country, the most 424 being in Delhi.

Gujarat has 405 and Maharashtra 253. Jay Madhok Energy Pvt Ltd had in 2013 won the licence to retail CNG to automobiles and piped cooking gas in Jalandhar and in 2015 got city gas distribution rights for Ludhiana. It, however, could not begin work for four years due to legal hurdles. “We have got all statutory approvals and have started work at full pace," the official said.

At present, about 20 vehicles comprising 14 auto and 6-8 cars refill CNG at the lone retail station in Jalandhar. The number would increase once more outlets come, he said. The company currently transports CNG to the outlet in cascades in absence of a state policy on laying gas pipelines. The Punjab government is in the process of formulating a policy that would encourage more vehicles to convert to CNG.

The policy would also reduce right-of-use (ROU) charges for laying of pipeline in line with those prevalent in Gujarat. The official said Jay Madhok Energy has signed an MoU with Jalandhar Municipal Corporation to set up a CNG facility for city buses. The municipal corporation is to handover land for that. He said work on the pipeline to supply gas to industries would start soon.

“We are exploring the feasibility of supplying gas to select industry, particularly in Ludhiana, through cascade." City-based Jay Madhok Energy had outbid likes of state-owned GAIL Gas, Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL), Indian Oil-Adani combine and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) to win city gas distribution rights for Jalandhar and Ludhiana.