Petroleum Ministry to invest Rs 40,000 crore in 4 projects
By A Special Correspondent
The Union Petroleum Ministry has identified four refinery projects totalling an investment of Rs 40,000 crore as priority projects for kick-starting economic growth. They include Indian Oil Corporation's Rs 10,000-crore Paradip refinery in Orissa, HPCL's Rs 10,000-crore Bhatinda refinery in Punjab and BPCL's Rs 6,000-crore Bina refinery in Madhya Pradesh. Besides, IOC's Rs 14,000-crore Panipat refinery expansion and petrochemicals complex would also be taken up on priority basis.
Union Petroleum Minister Ram Naik said the priority investment projects were approved at a meeting of key economic ministers chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Initially, the grassroot refinery projects would involve unskilled manual labour for jobs like levelling and civil construction which would spurt employment in the rural areas and boost economic development, Naik said.
At the meeting it was decided that the Navratna public sector companies would not be required to go to the Cabinet again for approval in case of cost escalation due to delays in clearances. Previously, the revised project cost had to be cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). In the case of BPCL's Bina refinery, the foundation for which was laid in 1995, construction work could not begin as environmental clearances were delayed resulting in an upward cost revision. Approaching the CCEA, which had originally cleared the project, again would have entailed a further delay of four-five months, Naik said.
BPCL is setting up a six million-tonne refinery at Bina, while HPCL is putting up a 9-million tonne refinery at Bhatinda. IOC, on the other hand, is doubling the capacity of its Panipat refinery to 12 million tonnes and setting up a petrochemicals complex. It is also setting up a 9-million tonne refinery at Paradip.