INDIA’S INTEREST in setting up a mega fertiliser plant in Algeria got its first shot on Wednesday with a meeting of Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh L Mandaviya and Algerian Minister of Industry and Mining Abdessalem Bouchouareb.
With Algeria’s phosphate reserves standing at over 5 billion tonne, India is looking to set up a joint venture mega fertiliser plant with a possible investment of $5-7 billion. India imports nearly 96 per cent of its phosphate from countries like Morocco and Tunisia and a plant such as this would cut the price of fertiliser in India as well as lighten its subsidy burden.
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Mandaviya is accompanying Vice-President Hamid Ansari on a two-day visit to Algeria as part of his two-nation trip. “The talks got off to a good start. The common thread was that we are making contact again with an old friend and are looking to reconfigure the relationship into a more contemporary one. We are exploring new areas of co-operation in the hydrocarbon sector at the possibility of co-operation in the area of fertilisers, pharmaceuticals and also in the area of space,” said Sujata Mehta, secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs.
During his visit, Ansari held talks with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra. His trip is being seen as a renewal of ties that had been in a cooling-off period. “This was a visit for renewal of ties. The issue of terrorism was discussed. Both sides noted that terror is a crime and also a crime against religion,” said Satbir Singh, India’s ambassador to Algeria. On the subject of a fertiliser plant, Singh said if there is some agreement in future, there has to be a consortium of Indian companies, which would contribute generation of funds and requisite technology for setting up a project of such a scale in Algeria.