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Rs 1,300 crore petrochem park in Kochi back on track

M Sarita Varma

Decks have been cleared for Kerala government's Rs 1,300-crore petrochemical park project in Kochi, after the Centre's nod for buying land from Central PSU Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT). Even as the chairman of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), one of the world’s biggest petroleum firms, came forward to invest in the proposed Kochi petro-park, there was uncertainty over the project due to dilly-dallying on the land transfer. Last week, the state government has directed its infra-building outfit KINFRA to acquire 482 acre from FACT at Rs 977 crore .

"We have been asked to complete the land transaction, before October-end and expedite the project. Once the transaction is done, the design of the park will be finalised," Santhosh Koshy Thomas, MD, KINFRA told FE.

In January 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for the petrochemical park. But the clearance for transferring FACT land to Kerala government was not going through for months. Only after the NDA government took charge for a second time at the Centre, FACT got the green signal to let the state government to acquire the land.

However, one caveat is that out of the 482 acres transferred from FACT, 170 acres had to be handed over to BPCL. Factoring in this transaction, Kerala will have to cough up Rs 527 crore. State’s infra-funder KIIFB has agreed to finance the land acquisition.

The Kerala government had come up with the idea of petrochemical park to utilise the raw materials and byproducts available from BPCL’s new PDPP (Propylene Derivatives Petrochemicals Project) as part of Kochi Refineries Integrated Refinery Expansion Project.

Conceived as a scale economy facility for small and medium downstream petrochemical units, it had several Gulf-based investors evincing serious interest. The petrochemical park in Kochi, when complete, is envisaged to fetch at least `4,000 crore as investment, say KINFRA officials. If this estimated investment is realised, it would mean creation of about 5,000 direct and 15,000 indirect jobs.