Sunday, October 2, 2011


NOTE :- This article was published perhaps in the inaugural issue of Haldia Refinery News or soon thereafter. It records the dreams of planners of those days. Maybe, now is the time to take a stock of the situation by interviewing the various stakeholders to find out if the dreams were fulfilled. I hope that someone would do it in a dispassionate manner for our future learnings.


SIXTH DECEMBER 1969 will carve out for itself a place in the annals of the socio-economic history of West Bengal, nay of India. On this memorable day, the foundation stone was laid by Hon. Dr. Triguna Sen, Minister of Petrleum,& Chemicals. Mines and Metals, Government of India at Haldia for the construction of a most complex refinery under the Indian Oil Corporation Limited.

Till recently, Haldia was a typical Indian village but now, it holds out a promise of great economic and industrial re-awakening to the people not only of West Bengal but also to the entire India. Haldia Refinery Project is a public sector oil refinery fully owned by the Government of India that is by the people of India.

The first refinery in the public sector was commissioned on !st January 1962 at Gauhati for processing 0.75 million tonnes of indigenous crude oil with Rumanian assistance. In 1964, the second refinery was built at Barauni in the state of Bihar for processing 2 million tonnes of crude oil from Assam oil fields with Soviet Union's assistance.. The third refinery was built at Jawaharnagar in Gujarat in 1966 for processing 3 million tonnes of Ankleshwar crude oil, again with Soviet assistance.

Haldia refinery is the fourth link in the chain of oil refineries owned and operated by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. When Haldia refinery goes on stream, we shall be processing 2.5 million tonnes of crude oil which will be imported from the Aghajhari oil fields of Iran. The initial capacity of 2.5 million tonnes per annum will be expanded to 3.5 million tonnes in the foreseeable future. Haldia Refinery will mainly produce Cooking gas, Naphtha, Petrol, Solvent Mineral Oil, Aviation fuel, Kerosene, High Speed Diesel, Jute Batching Oil, Lubricating Oil, Furnace Oil, Bitumen and various grades of Paraffin and Micro-crystalline Waxes.


When a villager will light a lamp in his humble hut, a housewife will burn a Janata stove to cook meals for the family, a doctor will drive a car to attend to a patient, a modern miss will bake a cake in her gas oven or a farmer will run his diesel pump to irrigate his fields - they all will remember the refiners of Haldia. We, at Haldia will be happy to contribute our mite to make the nation self-reliant. Like individuals, only a self-reliant nation can be strong and happy. Has not Cicero said ? " Most happy is he, who is self-reliant and who centres all his requirements on himself alone. " As stated elsewhere, we shall be procuring 70 % of the equipment required for the construction of the refinery, from indigenous sources. This sets a fine example for other projects. " Is example nothing ?" said Burke, " It is everything. Example is the school of mankind and they will learn at no other. " So we shall be helping the nation in our own humble way by trying to be self-sufficient and self-reliant.


This is not all. As the Hon. Minister for Petroleum & Chemicals, Mines and Metals said, " Haldia refinery when completed will certainly act as a harbinger of rapid development of the state (West Bengal) in all fields including agriculture and industry." The production of fuel oil as mentioned elsewhere, will be 1.53 lakh tonnes per year. This product will be utilised for producing nitrogenous fertilizers. The Government of India has already taken a decision and necessary initial steps to set up a big fertilizer complex adjacent to our refinery at Haldia with an annual production of 1.65 lakh tonnes of Urea, 3.6 lakh tonnes of nitrogenous phosphate and 60,000 tonnes of Soda Ash. There are other promising features as well. While on one hand, the refinery will produce certain specified products for consumption, on the other, it can provide feed stocks to Petrochemicals industries under the present day technology for manufacture of downstream items like man-made fibres, pesticides, dyestuffs, pharmaceuticals, plastics, synthetic rubber etc.

There is actually a two-way process. Whereas we shall be feeding our products to other industries, we shall require materials and other services from others for which ancillary industries in the public/private sector are expected to come up in this area. Thus with the advent of Haldia Refinery, a host of other industries will come up in Haldia Region. As is welknown, for a long time, west Bengal has been a one city state since all the industries had been centred in and around Calcutta. After independence, the Government of India have set up a number of heavy and other industries in the Durgapur-Asansol region with a view to relieve congestion in Calcutta. The Haldia complex will be the third industrial area in west Bengal. The difference between the Durgapur-Asansol belt and Haldia complex will be that the latter is served by a major port and is therefore expected to become a swinging metropolis on the lines of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in course of time. It will in fact, be better than the above metros since it is being planned de novo.


An effort on this scale naturally calls for certain sacrifices on our part. We are sure that the people from this area who will naturally have to bear the brunt of these sacrifices and who would ultimately stand to gain, would not mind a temporary dislocation in their normal way of life. In due course of time, everyone of us will be a co-partner in this effort of national reconstruction. The ultimate good that will come out of this temporary dislocation will far outweigh the disadvantages now being faced.

We are therefore proud that we are taking part in the regeneration of this area which had, inthe long bygone days, had been a flourishing trade centre served by a busy port known as TAMRALIPTA, the present day Tamluk.

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