2 HPCL RE­FINER­IES CAUGHT IN THE RED TAPE

COM­PANY STILL STRUG­GLING TO GET THE PROJECT OFF GROUND SINCE ITS IN­CEP­TION AT THE HANDS OF CONGRESS PRES­I­DENT SO­NIA GANDHI TWO YEARS AGO

Resource Digest - - EXPANSION -

United Pro­gres­sive Al­liance Chair­per­son So­nia Gandhi laid the foun­da­tion stone for Hin­dus­tan Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion Lim­ited’s (HPCL’s) re­fin­ery and petro­chem­i­cal com­plex at Pach­padra in Barmer dis­trict. Two years down the line, the com­pany is still strug­gling to get the project off the ground.

Be­fore the Ra­jasthan re­fin­ery project, HPCL in 2010 had de­cided to set up a 9 mil­lion tonne re­fin­ery in Ma­ha­rash­tra’s Rat­na­giri dis­trict but the re­gion was de­clared eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive, putting the plan in jeop­ardy. The mora­to­rium for the Ma­ha­rash­tra project was up to 2014. A year af­ter it elapsed, the com­pany says it has no clue about the fu­ture of the project.

The Mad­hav Gadgil panel had termed the en­tire Western Ghats an eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive area and sug­gested “no new dams based on large-scale stor­age be per­mit­ted and no new pol­lut­ing in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing coal-based power plants, be al­lowed”. It had clas­si­fied 142 taluks in the Western Ghats into three eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive zones.

“Its an irony that we are a re­fin­ing com­pany strug­gling to set up a re­fin­ery. It is good to hear about the Make in In­dia cam­paign and the grand vi­sion that the gov­ern­ment has. But noth­ing seems to be mov­ing. Re­finer­ies are com­pleted in five years. We have our plans ready. And the gov­ern­ments are busy play­ing the blame game,” said a se­nior HPCL ex­ec­u­tive.

The Ra­jasthan gov­ern­ment un­der Ashok Gehlot had promised HPCL would be given Rs 3,736 crore ev­ery year for 15 years as an in­ter­est-free loan, a Rs 56,000 crore com­mit­ment to the project. “This was later termed as a loss to the state by the BJP gov­ern­ment. They are still de­cid­ing on the terms,” said an HPCL ex­ec­u­tive.

The re­fin­ery-cum-petro­chem­i­cal com­plex was to be set at a cost of Rs 37,230 crore and the re­fin­ery was to start pro­duc­tion by 2017-18. The re­fin­ery was to process 4.5 mil­lion met­ric tonnes of Man­gala crude and 4.5 mil­lion met­ric tonnes of Arab or other crude oil. The re­fin­ery was to have a ca­pac­ity of 9 mil­lion met­ric tonnes, gen­er­ate Rs 878,000 crore in in­come, and pro­vide em­ploy­ment to 140,000 peo­ple.

Min­is­ter of State for Petroleum Dharmendra Prad­han said the Congress gov­ern­ment in Ra­jasthan had taken the de­ci­sion in haste be­fore the as­sem­bly elec­tions. "The re­fin­ery will be set up by HPCL in Ra­jasthan. We are work­ing on a scheme be­cause we want the re­fin­ery to be prof­itable. The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment ig­nored the in­ter­ests of the state while fi­nal­is­ing the project," he said.

Nishi Vasudeva, chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, HPCL said, “It is a ques­tion of when you are able to get the ap­provals. The Rat­na­giri project would have gone ahead had it not been for the en­vi­ron­men­tal ban. Th­ese are cir­cum­stan­tial things.”

HPCL has one re­fin­ery each in Visakha­p­at­nam in Andhra Pradesh and Bathinda in Pun­jab, with ca­pac­i­ties of 8.3 mil­lion tonnes and 9 mil­lion tonnes, re­spec­tively. The Bathinda re­fin­ery was set up at a cost of Rs 21,500 crore in a joint ven­ture with steel mag­nate LN Mit­tal. The re­fin­ery’s ca­pac­ity is slated to be in­creased to 18 mil­lion tonnes.

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