The Assam gas cracker project, whose cost almost doubled due to the inordinate delay including a change of the project site, finally saw the light of the day after 31 years on Friday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicating it to the nation at Lepetkota near Dibrugarh.
Speaking on the occasion, Modi however took a dig at the erstwhile Congress regimes for failing to implement projects on time, which not only led to cost escalation but also frustration in the minds of the people waiting for benefits from them.
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“Had this gas cracker project been completed 25 years ago, the second generation of people would have been working here today. Hundreds of downstream units would have created thousands of jobs for Assam’s youth,” Modi said.
The gas cracker project, an outcome of the Assam Accord of 1985, saw seven prime ministers. Of them, the first site where PV Narasimha Rao had laid the foundation stone in 1995 was abandoned, with Manmohan Singh laying the same at Lepetkota in 2007. The project cost escalated from an original Rs 5600 crores to Rs 9965 crores as the prime minister inaugurated it.
Set up as a public sector unit, the Brahmaputra Cracker & Polymer Ltd (BCPL) has GAIL as its main promoter holding 70 per cent equity participation, with Oil India Ltd (OIL), Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) and the Assam government holding 10 per cent each. The second petro-chemical complex in the region as well as in Dibrugarh district, it will produce 2.20 lakh tons of LLDPE/HDPE, 60,000 tons of polymer-grade polypropylene, 55,750 tons of pyro-gasoline and 12,500 tons of fuel oil per day.
The prime minister also inaugurated a 50,000-ton wax plant – the largest so far in the country – that is part of the public sector Numaligarh Refinery Ltd, also located in upper Assam. He Rs 676-crore wax plant has been developed by IIP Dehradun, EIL and NRL, with the unit excepted to cut down sizeable portion of paraffin wax import, and the entire demand for Microcrystalline Wax which is currently being 100 per cent imported.
Blaming the erstwhile Congress regimes for not thinking of projects ahead of time, and then also not creating a road-map to set them up and completing them within a reasonable time-frame, prime minister Modi said his government was committed to complete all such projects “whichever government had set them up and laid their foundation stones.” His government has taken a special initiative to identify all such projects that have remained stall for years, he said.
“Whichever government had set up such industries and laid their foundation stones, we should complete those and fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the people. The media had recently said that several such projects that were languishing for years have been finally completed. The Assam gas cracker project was one of them, he said.
Pointing at his government special focus on eastern India, Modi said India would not have a balanced and overall development if this region remained backward. “Development of eastern India has been my government’s topmost priority. Only then would India see balanced overall development,” he said.
Also pointing at his government’s focus on Act East Policy, Modi said it not only stressed on infrastructure development in the Northeast but also reaching out the adjoining countries in order to boost trans-border trade relations with them. “Never ever since Independence has any government earmarked huge funds for railway infrastructure development in the Northeast,” he said.