The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ray of hope for HFC Haldia

Calcutta, Oct. 21: The virtually defunct fertiliser plant of Hindustan fertiliser Corporation (HFC) at Haldia may be converted into a chemicals complex, Union minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Tapan Sikdar said here today.

The plant, which has never produced a grain of fertiliser since its inception, has been making around Rs 20 crore annually by letting out the ammonia storage facility to Hindustan Lever Ltd, supplying water to factories in the neighbourhood and letting out other facilities, Sikdar noted. Plans are also afoot to put up a massive packaged drinking water unit using the factory’s water treatment facility. Moreover, HFC is in talks to sell the water to Indian Railways.

The fertiliser plant is currently closed, and its 1,300 workers have been offered a voluntary separation scheme (VSS). The minister said talks were on with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for handing over the land to the oil major for establishing a joint venture, so that the facilities created for the fertiliser plant could ultimately be converted as a full-fledged chemicals complex. IOC had sought the facilities at the fertiliser plant to put up a hydrogen gas unit at Haldia.

Sikdar, who was addressing a press conference to trumpet the achievements of the NDA government, hinted at a ray of hope for three other HFC plants at Durgapur, Sindhri, Barauni, delaying their closure by a year. However, Sikdar noted that S. S. Dhindsa, his senior at the chemicals and fertiliser ministry has in-principle approved a scheme to delay the closure of the three by a year. “The idea is to revive these units by taking opportunity of the availability of methane gas in the Bengal-Jharkhand belt to produce cheaper fertilisers.’’

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