KOCHI: Long drawn protests and indecision on the part of the state government have pushed the Rs 715 crore LPG import terminal project implemented by the Indian Oil Corporation at Puthuvype into uncertainty. The works on the Rs 225 crore Multi-User Liquid Terminal (MULT) jetty for unloading LPG at Cochin Port has been completed and the IOC is awaiting a decision from the state government for the completion of the Rs 490 crore storage terminal at Puthuvype.
"The project, once commissioned, will usher in an era of development and the state government will get around `300 crore as tax per annum. The apprehensions about the safety of the project are unfounded as we are spending around 30 per cent of the project cost to ensure safety. The fears that the project will adversely affect the flora and fauna are baseless as LPG is a non-pollutant natural gas. The allegation of blocking access of the fishermen to the sea also does not hold ground as the coastal stretch of the project is only 700 m," IOC general manager C N Rajendra Kumar told a press conference.
The LPG Import Terminal has got two major facilities like the MULT jetty for unloading LPG at Cochin Port and the Storage Terminal at Puthuvype which is in limbo due to protests. The LPG from the ship tankers will be unloaded at the MULT and transferred to the storage terminal through a 3.5-km long underground pipeline. "The protesters demand the project should be shifted from Puthuvype, which is unviable. The project was scheduled to be completed in February 2018 and only 40 per cent of the work for the storage terminal has been completed. There is a need to create a consensus on the project. The delay in implementing the project will lead to a shortage of LPG across the country," said general manager S Dhanapandian.
The IOCL started the construction of the jetty and storage terminal simultaneously and the progress of the work was being maintained on a pro-rata basis till February 16, 2017, when the construction of the storage terminal was stalled by the local protestors. About 40 per cent of the work for both the facilities was completed when the protest began. While the construction of the storage terminal was obstructed by protestors, MULT works were not affected. "There is no use of MULT without the storage terminal and hence the investment on MULT amounting to `225 crore facility will be idling, said Dhanapandian.
Apart from LPG, other petroleum products, including crude oil, diesel and petrol, can be loaded and unleaded at the MULT. The capacity of MULT is 4.52 million tonnes per year, including LPG. The draft available at MULT is 13.5 m and this will facilitate very large gas carriers and very large crude carriers to berth here. The annual revenue earnings expected from the MULT after commissioning is `50 crore which the Cochin Port will be losing due to the idling of the facility. This will be a further blow to the Cochin Port. MULT is an additional infrastructure that will be available at Cochin Port and has a huge potential for future development.
Decongesting the roads
Once the Kochi-Salem LPG pipeline project is implemented, around 300 tankers transporting LPG in the state on a daily basis can be removed from the road. The gas pipeline will link the bottling plants at Udayamperoor, Palakkad and two plants at Coimbatore and Erode. This will help the transportation of LPG by road to these bottling plants.
IOC pipeline to Kollam, Kozhikode
The IOC has approached the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) seeking permission for laying underground pipeline along the service road of the national highways to link the LPG bottling plants at Parippally in Kollam district and Chelari in Kozhikode district. The project can be implemented along with the widening of the NH. The cost for laying gas pipeline is `1.5 crore per km. The project can be completed at an expense of `150 crore and this will help completely avoid transportation of LPG by road in the state, said Rajendra Kumar.
City gas project not to affect LPG agencies
Allaying fears that the city gas project aimed at providing piped LNG to households will reduce the use of LPG cylinders and affect business of LPG distributors, Rajendra Kumar said the piped gas project will take 10 years to complete and only 40 per cent of the city population will be covered under the project.