With the final clearance from the National Green Tribunal in hand, Indian Oil Corporation is all set to re-start construction activities at its Rs. 2,200-crore LPG import terminal-cum-pipeline project at Puthuvypeen near Kochi.
Necessary orders in this regard have been issued by the Kerala government and the work is expected to commence in January, probably after the Sabarimala pilgrim season. The NGT judgment has made it amply clear that “there is no environmental pollution in the Puthuvypeen project,” said S Dhanapandian, Deputy General Manager (LPG-project), IOCL.
“We are incurring a loss of Rs. 1 crore per day since February 2017 due to suspension of work at the construction site in the wake of the agitation by the local community against the project,” he said.
IOCL, he said, has adopted global standards on safety measures and one-third of the cost is being spent on safety. The risk analysis study conducted by Projects & Development India Ltd has estimated the risk factor in a million chances per year, Dhanapandian told a visiting group of journalists from Kochi after displaying the safety features adopted at the company’s Ennore LPG terminal project. This terminal has safely handled 72 lakh tonnes of LPG since its commissioning in 2012, he said.
The Kochi terminal, with the pipelines connecting the bottling plant, will eliminate the movement of bulk LPG by road, he said, citing the removal of LPG tanker lorry movement from Mangaluru to Tamil Nadu after the commissioning of Ennore terminal. “Today, we receive nearly 125 bullet trucks of bulk LPG per day from Mangaluru to Kerala travelling around 1,000 km through narrow and curved roads, posing colossal accident risks and fire hazards,” he added.
The Kochi project consists of an import terminal, multi-user liquid terminal (MULT) jetty, Kochi-Salem pipeline and the bulk LPG terminal at Palakkad with a total investment of Rs. 2,200 crore. Of this, the Rs. 225 crore jetty is ready and the company has invested another Rs. 160 crore for construction activities. The physical progress of the work is only 40 per cent complete, which includes ground improvement, land development, etc.
Dhanapandian claims that early completion of the project will ensure LPG availability to the households across the counter. Kerala presently has an average waiting period of 15 days to receive a LPG refill. This could go up if the infrastructure expansion does not happen.
Referring to LPG consumption in the State, he said it was 8.4 lakh tonnes in 2016-17, which would touch 13.2 lakh tonnes by 2022 and 22.7 lakh tonnes by 2028. India imports 50 per cent of its LPG requirements. With the boom in LPG requirement, imports are expected to go up. To meet the huge growth in volumes, infrastructure must be improved.
LPG is imported through the major ports on the coast and there are 13 import terminals. Kochi is next on the list. The design of the terminal has been approved by regulatory agencies, who will inspect during the construction stage and prior to commissioning.
(The writer was at the Ennore LPG import terminal at the invitation of Indian Oil Corporation).
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