Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Varanasi City Gas Distribution (CGD) network to the nation at a public event held in the ancient city in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday.

The CGD, whose foundation stone was laid by Modi on 24 October 2016, will supply environment-friendly natural gas to households, transport sector and industries in Varanasi.

The project is part of the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga initiative and is being implemented by GAIL (India) Limited at a cost of Rs 755 crores. It will cover 1,535 sq km and cater to a population of 36.76 lakhs.

Two Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations have started commercial operations while another 18 will be set up in the coming years. Overall, 20,000 vehicles are expected to use CNG in the city.

Piped Natural Gas (PNG) connection work for 8,000 homes has been completed and is expected to be made operational by March 2019. GAIL said in a press release that about 1 lakh households are likely to be covered under the project.

Steel pipeline has already been laid for 28 km and medium density polyethylene (MDPE) pipe laying for 102 km has been completed. About 800 km of steel and MDPE pipelines will be laid in the city as part of the project, the release added.

The CGD network will also cover four industrial areas and can cater to 150 industries and 500 commercial enterprises. It is expected to give direct employment to 1,000 people and indirect employment to many more.

The Varanasi CGD project was developed simultaneously with the Jagdishpur Haldia and Bokaro Dhamra/ Barauni- Guwahati Pipeline Project (JHBDPL/BGPL), popularly known as the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga.

The pipeline project of total length 3,291 km is being executed at the cost of about Rs 13,000 crore.

It will cater to the energy requirements of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam covering 70 districts and 3,150 villages.

Besides Varanasi, CGD networks are also being developed by GAIL at Patna, Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack enroute the pipeline, the release added.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other dignitaries were present at the event.

The PM had earlier addressed a public rally in Ghazipur where he laid the foundation stone for the expressway, Modi said that it will take Uttar Pradesh to greater heights. The 340-km Purvanchal Expressway will connect Lucknow, the state capital, with Ghazipur.

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(With inputs from agency.)