Hind Zinc’s fertiliser project in Rajasthan faces a hurdle, may relocate

Suresh P. Iyengar Mumbai | Updated on November 05, 2019

Vedanta Resources’ much-delayed project to set up a fertiliser plant in Rajasthan with an investment of Rs 1,350 crore seems to have a hit a bump, and the company is looking for alternate locations in the state.

In 2015, Hindustan Zinc, part of Vedanta Resources owned by Anil Agarwal, announced plans for setting up a 1.02 mt per annum greenfield di-ammonium phosphate plant, using the sulphuric acid derived from zinc production and rock phosphate at the company’s mine. The plant was supposed to come up near the zinc smelter at Chittorgarhin Udaipur.

Hindustan Zinc wanted to use part of the land provided near the plant for a green belt, for the fertiliser project. However, it faced a lot of opposition at the mandatory public hearing meeting for environment clearance, held in February. The general public, political parties, including Rajendra Singh Vidhuri, MLA, Beghu, and Chandrabhan Singh Aakia, MLA, Chittorgarh, had expressed concern over the plant being planned in land given for a green belt.

The company, in its Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan report, said 33 per cent of the land acquired in 2006 for greenbelt development, had been developed as a plantation, so this land was not required for further plantation purposes.

An application has been submitted to the respective authorities for conversion of the land for industrial use, it said in the report submitted in August.

In a response to BusinessLine questions on hurdles and the prolonged delay to the fertiliser project, Amitabh Gupta, President, Hindustan Zinc, said the company had received strong representations favouring the project, from ministers, public representatives and a village sarpanch. The location was in the final stage of conversion to industrial land.

“Presentation for Environment Clearance was done in October. We see a favourable direction on all approvals," he said.

However, he said, as a back-up, the company is considering two other locations in the state, without naming the locations.

The company has surplus land in Zawar and Dariba, but the fertilizer plant has to be located close to the zinc smelter as transporting sulphuric acid over a long distance would not be a viable proposition in the longer term, said an analyst.

The company may zero in on Dariba as an alternative location as Zawar was a mining location. If the location is shifted to a new place, it would delay the fertiliser project further, he said.

Tuticorin plant

Vedanta Group may not rush ahead with the fertiliser project, as its copper plant at Tuticorin has remained shut for more than one year due to environmental violations.

Vedanta had challenged the closure order of the Tamil Nadu government through an appeal before the National Green Tribunal, which in December 2018 ruled that the order was non-sustainable and unjustified.

However, the Supreme Court in February set aside the Tribunal's order on the grounds of maintainability and directed Vedanta to file a writ petition before the Madras High Court. The latter is reportedly expected to take the matter up for hearing in the first week of December.

Published on November 05, 2019

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