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The Centre as well as the state government have failed to provide funds to keep the Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Corporation Limited operational
The Centre as well as the state government have failed to provide funds to keep the Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Corporation Limited operational|BVFCL
NEWS

Assam: Asia’s oldest gas-based fertilizer plant gasping for air

A Bhopal gas tragedy-like situation waiting to happen, said an official of the Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Limited located in Namrup

Ripunjoy Das

Namrup, Assam: The Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Corporation Limited (BVFCL), located in Namrup, Assam, is on the brink of shutting down, thanks to the Centre as well as the state government failing to provide substantial funds to keep the unit operational, as per sources.

Once considered one of the best fertiliser factories of the country, the BVFCL of late is struggling to stay afloat with dipping production of urea.

Despite the approval of the installation of a new plant with a production capacity of 8.646 metric tonnes per annum and modeling the joint venture as a public-private partnership on May 5, 2015, the Central government could not attract investment as only two parties participated in the bidding process. However, both the parties did not submit any proposal for the joint venture forcing the government to step in.

After the failed attempt to generate funds, government agencies initiated the revamping process and set up the joint venture, the fourth plant of the BVFCL in Namrup. The Rastriya Chemicals and Ferilizers and Oil India Limited took stakes of 52% and 26%, respectively, and the Assam government and the BVFCL shared stakes of 11% each, as a measure to set up the new unit. However, the project, whose cost has been put at Rs 4,500 crore, has not seen any development as far as its setting up is concerned.

To add to the dilapidated condition of the unit, the BVFCL is now looking for the clearance of a Rs 100-crore capital investment from the Central government to replace the old equipment and keep the existing unit-II and unit-III operational.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre had even included the establishment of the fourth unit in PM Narendra Modi’s 100-day programmes during the 2014 general election campaigns, but so far nothing seems to have happened on the ground.

The fertilizer unit, set up in 1969, has three existing units. Of these three, two are operational, unit-II and unit-III, with a production capacity of 800 to 900 tons of urea per day. In 1986, the ageing unit-I was phased out by the authorities.

Despite crossing the ‘threshold period’ of 15 years decades ago, “these units have not been refurbished” said PK Bhattacharjee, the spokesperson for BVFCL. “This may soon lead to a Bhopal gas tragedy-like situation in the state,” he added.