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GAIL seeks foray into solar power plants, battery charging stations

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State owned GAIL India has sought shareholder nod to amend the charter of the company to invest...

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State owned GAIL India has sought shareholder nod to amend the charter of the company to invest in start-ups, build solar power plants and set up battery charging stations for electric vehicles as it looks to diversify its portfolio beyond gas and petrochemicals.

The nation's biggest natural gas transporting and marketing company wants to insert six new sections in the main objects clause of the memorandum of association of the company, according to shareholder notice.

It wants to invest in "start-ups in core business areas (of natural gas, petrochemicals, and energy) and non-core areas (like health, social and environment, safety, and security) either directly or indirectly."

"The investment can be made through special purpose vehicle (SPV), alternative investment fund (AIF), fund of funds (FoF) and trust," it said.

GAIL said that there is a necessity to adopt new and different pathways to provide clean, cost-effective and efficient mobility services that are safe, reduce dependence on oil imports and achieve more efficient land-use in cities with the least environmental footprints and impacts on human health.

With the objective in mind, the firm wants to set up "battery charging stations and providing charging services" to electric vehicles.

With the government planning to make a major shift to electric vehicles by 2030, GAIL felt that charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in India has not been fully developed yet.

GAIL with its "pan-India presence through the natural gas network is deep-pocketed and has the capability of setting up charging infrastructure at a faster pace," the notice said.

The 34th annual general meeting of the company is scheduled for September 11. The company also wants to "explore the business opportunity in waste-water treatment plants, water distribution, large water pipeline laying as an early mover."

With groundwater depleting and monsoons becoming less predictable and unreliable, availability and utilisation of water are becoming key issues in modern India. Many cities are sourcing the fresh water through long-distance transport ranging from 50-200 km.

Stating that with growing population and industrialisation the effluent water discharged has increased significantly, GAIL said the treatment of the effluent water and maintaining of the freshwater table is a big challenge and a business opportunity.

It is also looking to "harness solar power potential available at its various sites and installations which can be connected to grid for sale or for own use at other installations through wheeling of power."

In line with its strategy to promote the use of green fuel, it is contemplating to promote gas appliances in households to increase gas usage and minimise electric usage in housing equipment and appliances such as gas boiler, gas-based air conditioner and bathroom heater.

Operating nearly 14,000-km of natural gas and LPG pipeline and executing more than 4,500 km of new lines, GAIL feels it can provide services such as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), engineering, procurement, construction management (EPCM) and project management consultancy (PMC) in the field of hydrocarbon pipelines.

"GAIL also has adequate experienced manpower and infrastructure for providing these services," the notice said.

It also wants to "carry on the business of manufacture, import, distribution, and marketing of appliances relating to gas marketing and distribution, such as gas meter and CNG kits.

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