Indian Oil Corporation will invest around Rs 650 crore in expanding its storage and bottling capacity in Tripura over the next three years as it looks to prevent fuel crisis in the state.
IndianOil-AOD, the company’s North East division, will also start moving a convoy of 20 tankers by the end of this month to the North Eastern state for the first time via Bangladesh to avoid the dilapidated NH-44 in Assam.
“Apart from exploring new routes to supply fuel for ending the crisis in Tripura, we are looking to increase the storage capacity in the state. We are working on both the possibilities so that common people do not suffer there,” Indian Oil Corporation Executive Director (IndianOil-AOD) Dipankar Ray told PTI.
For this purpose, the company will set up one Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) depot and a new bottling plant in Agartala, he added.
“The POL depot will incur an investment of around Rs 500 crore, while Rs 143 crore have been estimated for setting up the bottling plant over the next 2-3 years. The investment includes land cost as well and the land parcels have already been identified for both the units,” Ray said.
In Tripura, the company has a POL depot at Dharmanagar with a capacity of around 6,000 kilo litre (kl) and an LPG bottling plant at Bishalgarh with a capacity of 30,000 million tonnes per annum in double shifts.
“The existing two facilities are not enough to cater to the growing demand of fuel in Tripura. So we have decided to expand our capacities by setting up new units.
“The new POL depot will have an installed capacity of 32,000 kl, while that for the bottling plant will be 60,000 million tonnes a year, expandable up to 1,20,000 million tonnes,” he added.
During monsoon in May-June this year, Tripura faced unprecedented fuel crisis as supply was badly hit due to pathetic road condition of NH-44 at Barak Valley in Assam and thousands of tankers were stranded on roads for weeks.
The situation forced IOC and Tripura government to scout for alternate ways to supply fuel in addition to augment the storage capacity.
“One of the options that we already started is roll-on roll-off, where tankers are transported by open rail wagons from Bhanga in Assam to Churaibari in Tripura. However, this system is not economical for us as transporting 24 tankers one way cost us Rs 3.9 lakh,” Ray said.
Informing that NF Railway has made two trips with oil tankers so far, he said the company will use this mode only in extreme cases. “Meanwhile, we identified a road route via Bangladesh. Within just one and half month, everything is finalised and we have already signed an agreement with concerned authorities in Bangladesh.
We will send the first batch of 20 tankers to Tripura by the end of this month,” Ray said.
The distance for transporting POL and LPG from IOC’s Betkuchi depot in Guwahati to Dharmanagar depot in Tripura via Bangladesh will be 366 km, including 126 km in the neighbouring nation, against 386 km long-route through the Barak Valley.
The convoy will enter Bangladesh through Dawki point in Maghalaya and re-enter India at Kailashahar in Tripura.
“As per the agreement, we will pay 1.02 Bangladeshi Taka per tonne per km along with 200 Bangladeshi Taka for entry and exit charges. The MoU also says that at any point of time, not more than 160 tankers will be plying on Bangladeshi roads,” the Executive Director said.
The company will have to pay around 1,500 Bangladeshi Taka to the neighbouring nation per vehicle, which will be about Rs 1,300 in Indian currency.
Ray said the agreement is valid till September this year, but will be reviewed and renewed after examining the success of the process in one month.
“This entire exercise will open various options to use Bangladeshi territories in future. We can further explore our neighbour. Besides, this step will strengthen India’s bilateral relations with Bangladesh,” he