CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has categorised chemicals and petrochemicals as sunrise sectors to extend financial support through additional incentives. It has also leveraged investments for setting up of three large petrochemical projects in Thoothukudi, Nagapattinam and Cuddalore, according to Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu.
Speaking at the summit on ‘Global Chemical and Petrochemical Manufacturing Hubs in India’, the minister said the three projects will position the State as a petrochemical investment destination. Stating that the investment promotion agency, Guidance, is interacting continuously with all chemical associations to address their requirements, he said the State aims to establish sector-specific clusters for electronics, foods, furniture, chemicals and petrochemicals by identifying new industrial zones and industrial land banks.
Among the three projects is an oil refinery complex to be established at Thoothukudi with a whopping investment of around Rs 40,000 crore by Middle East-based Al Kharafi. Also, a nine-million-metric-tonne per annum refinery is being set up at Nagapattinam by Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL), a subsidiary of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL). The estimated investment in the CPCL-IOCL project, which will also have a petrochemical complex, is Rs 31,580 crore. The third project pertains to TCG group, which operates Haldia Petrochemicals in Bengal, setting up a petrochemicals project of international scale at Cuddalore.
The Thoothkudi project is awaiting clearance from the Ministry of Environment, said official sources. The project ran into trouble after Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (refinery division) directed the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu to take appropriate action on complaints against ongoing land acquisition at Allikulam and surrounding villages in Thoothukudi.
In May 2020, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change, said such a polluting industry cannot be allowed close to dense residential areas. It was suggested that SIPCOT find a place at least 25 km away from the town and 10 km from any habitation and ecologically-important areas. Official sources said the project will get clearance after consultations with people.
Similarly, the other two projects are facing opposition and the previous government had cancelled its notification on constituting a Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR), encompassing 45 villages in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts. The State Assembly had also adopted a Bill declaring the Cauvery delta area as a protected agricultural zone.
Meanwhile, the minister said the State has established a Polymer Park spread across 306 acres near Chennai to cater to the needs of plastic manufacturing and logistics industries. “We have proposed to establish a pharmaceutical park and a textile park in the State,” he added.