Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Bloomberg
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Bloomberg

PM Modi in Odisha, begins work on 13,000 crore Talcher fertiliser plant revival

The Talcher plant, the first fertiliser unit in India to use coal-gasification technology, will reduce dependence on urea and gas imports

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday commenced work for the Talcher ferlitiliser plant at Angul in Odisha, the first such plant in eastern India.

With Talcher plant being the first fertiliser plant in India to use coal-gasification technology, it will provide a template for using gas produced from coal, which is likely to be adopted by refineries and power plants to lower their emissions.

Talcher Fertilizers Ltd is a joint venture between state run GAIL (India) Ltd, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Limited (RCF) and Coal India Ltd (CIL). Once commissioned, it will produce 1.26 million metric tonne per annum of neem coated urea.

The Talcher project will reduce dependence on urea and gas imports, Modi said.

“The plant will promote alternative use of domestic coal in an environment friendly manner, thereby supporting India’s commitments under the CoP 21 Paris Agreement 2016. It will produce 2.38 million metric standard cubic meter per day (MMSCMD) natural gas equivalent syngas from coal, leading to reduction in import bill of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by more than 1,620 crore per annum," GAIL said in a statement.

Reviving sick fertiliser units has been a policy priority of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government as it reduces import of the most commonly used fertiliser urea and deepens the market for natural gas. Gas-based fertiliser units will also add to the customer base of gas trading and energy infrastructure firms such as Gail India Ltd.

Prime Minister Modi is also slated to inaugurate the Jharsuguda airport in the state today.

This comes in the backdrop of the BJD government and the NDA government trying to drum up investments for the state in the countdown to the state assembly elections next year.

In the run-up to 2019 general elections, Modi said he has been told that the project will be commissioned within 36 months, and he will come back after 36 months to inaugurate the project.

While GAIL, RCF and CIL hold 29.67% each, Fertilizer Corporation of India Ltd (FCIL) has a 10.99% stake in the Rs13,000 crore Talcher project. The project is expected to provide direct and indirect employment to 4,500 people.

According to GAIL, FCIL set up the Talcher unit in 1971. Given the problems faced by the unit, the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) declared FCIL a sick unit in 1992 and the government started work to close the company in 2002.

The NDA government has been focusing on reviving stalled projects in eastern India such as the Assam gas cracker project inaugurated in 2016 and the ongoing revival of sick fertiliser units at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, Sindri in Jharkhand, Barauni in Bihar and Talcher in Odisha.

The government wants to step up urea production. India’s urea production capacity is expected to go up from the current 25 million tonnes to 34 million tonnes by 2021-22, according to government estimates.

Speaking separately at a political rally, Modi also spoke about bringing central government schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to the people of Odisha.

The Prime Minister said under PMJDY, aimed at providing a bank account to every Indian household, around 1.30 crore bank accounts were already opened for the people of Odisha. Also, under Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide free cooking gas connections to poor families, 34 lakh connections have been given in the state.

The Prime Minister also took a dig at the Naveen Patnaik government and said toilets were not being constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission. He added that the BJD government should also come on-board the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).

The ambitious health scheme, also known as Modicare, aims to offer an annual health cover of 5 lakh per family, targeting more than 100 million families belonging to the poor and vulnerable sections of the society, based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database. The expenditure incurred in premium payment will be shared by the Centre and state governments.

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