Cash-rich coal, power and oil PSUs will jointly invest about Rs 30,000 crore to revive four mothballed fertiliser plants by 2020-21 to make India self- sufficient in urea production and cut imports. Besides investing in rebuilding the shut urea plants at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Sindri in Jharkhand, Talcher in Odisha and Barauni in Bihar, about Rs 13,000 crore is being invested in laying a gas pipeline to connect the eastern region with rest of the country.
Another Rs 6,000-8,000 crore is being invested in setting up a terminal to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Dhamra in Odisha, taking the total investment to Rs 50,000 crore, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said. “India’s annual requirement of urea is 31-32 million tonnes. In the fiscal year that ended on March 31 (2016-17), domestic production was 24.5 million tonnes and the rest was imported,” said Fertiliser Minister Ananth Kumar.
Revival of the fertiliser units will boost productivity of agriculture, which account for about 15 per cent of India’s USD 2.11 trillion economy and employ three-fifths of its 1.3 billion people.
The four fertiliser plants, together with another unit at Ramagundam in Telangana – which too is being revived — will add 7.5 million tonnes of capacity, making India self-reliant, he told reporters after reviewing the progress of the revival plans with Pradhan and Power Minister Piyush Goyal. Pradhan said physical work on four fertiliser plants in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha will start this year and production will start in 2020-21.
Work on Ramagundam unit is already started and is expected to be completed by end-2018, he said. The fertiliser plants are being revived with the help of state-run power producer NTPC Ltd, miner Coal India Ltd, oil refiner Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and gas utility GAIL India Ltd who have taken an equity stake in the plants.
In view of the continuous losses of Fertiliser Corp of India Ltd’s (FCIL) units at Talcher, Ramagundam, Gorakhpur, Sindri, and Korba in Chhattisgarh were shut down in 2002 during the previous NDA rule. Similarly, Hindustan Fertiliser Corp Ltd’s (HFCL) Barauni and Durgapur, and Haldia units in West Bengal were shut.
While the revival of Korba unit is to be taken up later, FCIL’s Sindri and Gorakhpur, and HFCL’s Barauni plants will be connected to the 2,650-km pipeline, which GAIL is laying from Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal to supply feedstock natural gas. Durgapur and Haldia units are being revived through ‘bidding route’. Pradhan said Talcher plant will be revived through coal- gasification process. “About 2.5-kilometre of gas pipeline per day is being laid,” he said.
In Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni plants, NTPC, Coal India and IOC will take stake along with FCIL/HFCL. In Ramagundam, Engineers India Ltd, National Fertiliser Ltd (NFL) and FCIL have formed a joint venture.