Barmer set for transformation with Rajasthan's first refinery
By Anil Sharma, Jaipur, March 12 : Rajasthan's backward Barmer district, known for its folk music, dances and camels and which is part of the arid Thar desert, is set for a transformation with a Rs.37,000 crore 9 million tonnes per annum refinery and petrochemical complex, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for which is to be signed here Thursday.
This will be Rajasthan's first refinery and taking into account the ancillary industries that are likely to come up, the total investment could be in the region of Rs.70,000 crore, while "thousands of jobs would be generated", a Rajasthan government official said.
The board of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL), which will execute the project had approved it March 5 and will now sign the MoU with the Rajasthan government, which will partner the venture and acquire 9,610 bhigas (16,298,560 sq metres) for the refinery. It will process the crude discovered by Cairn India at its fields some 25 km away.
The refinery is located 55 km from Barmer town and 150-175 km from the India-Pakistan border as the crow flies. HPCL would also lay pipelines for both the feedsstock and the end product. The feeder would be roughly 30 km from the present Mangla Processing Terminal and the transporting pipeline would be roughly 100-150 km in length. The Mangala terminal carries crude from another Cairn field to Salaya, near Reliance's Jamnagar refinery.
It's early days yet to say when construciton will commence or production will begin, but already, the residents in Barmer, some 600 kilometers from Rajasthan capital Jaipur, have been distributing sweets in celebration.
"It is not just the investment from the HPCL. We expect great inflow of investment real estate, hospitality and other sectors in our region," Bhanwar Lal, a local businessman, told IANS.
A local public representative Jamna Devi Godara said that there are very few employment opportunities in this district.
"Barmer is considered one of the most backward districts in the state. However, this is going to change very soon with setting up of a refinery here. We have been bursting firecrackers and distributing sweets since the board of HPCL gave approval to the refinery," Jamna Devi said.
The refinery has come as a major victory for Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who had long been pitching hard for it.
"In spite of opposition from some corporate houses, even from a section in the union government, the chief minister has been able to bring this refinery. It really is a big victory for Ashok Gehlot. He relentlessly pursued it and was knocking on doors every where and finally his dream is going to come true," said Congress legislator Ratan Devasi.
Gehlot had met United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minster Manmohan Singh, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily and several other union ministers over the past many months to pitch for the the Barmer refinery.
"I thank Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Veerappa Moily for the refinery, which I think is set to change the complexion of the state especially of Barmer," Gehlot said.
"The refinery will not only bring lots of investment but also open up new and big opportunities of employment," he said, adding: "We are sure that there would also be investments in petroleum-based industries like polymers and in plastics once the refinery comes up."
Even some of Gehlot's vocal opponenets both in the Congress and the BJP have praised him for bringing the refinery in the state.
"We have to give credit to Gehlot for brining the refinery," said a BJP functionary on condition of anonymity.
(Anil Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)