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Friday, November 13, 1998
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All set for PM's visit today
From Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

PHULOKHARI (Bathinda), Nov 12 — The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said he was not aware of any affidavit submitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on behalf of the State Government regarding the People's Commission.

Addressing a press conference here after inspecting the arrangements made for the PM's visit for laying the foundation stone of the oil refinery tomorrow, Mr Badal said, "Please don't ask such questions. I am here only for seeing the arrangements. Punjab is getting a big boost on the industrial front with the foundation stone laying ceremony of the refinery, so talk about industry."

He parried the question that in the affidavit, the plea of the Punjab Government that the People's Commission had so far not created any law and order problem would have an adverse impact on the police force.

Regarding industrialisation of the state, he said in the past 50 years, only Rs 14,000 crore was invested in the industrial sector by both private and government organisations. But with the refinery, the Punjab Government had succeeded in getting an investment of Rs 16,000 crore in one go.

He pointed out that earlier, total investment in Punjab by the Central Government in the industrial sector was 0.73 per cent of the country and with the setting up of refinery, the investment would go up to 1.5 per cent. He said that industrial growth rate in Punjab was 10 per cent against the 3 per cent of the country. He added that industrial growth of the State would be taken to 12.5 per cent in the current financial year.

He said the international airport at Amritsar, Rs 1500 crore-fertiliser plant at Sangrur, two cement plants, tractor plant, tyre plant, denim cloth plant and a software park were fast coming up in the state.

"With the setting up of oil refinery in 48 months, the economic condition of Punjab would change. We are making arrangements for providing all the technical hands needed to the authorities concerned for the oil refinery. Talks were being held with the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) authorities for giving 100 per cent employment to the residents of Punjab in this project, the Chief Minister added.

He said that a school and hospital would be opened by HPCL here. A four lane road would be constructed from the site of refinery to the nearest Fazilka-Delhi national highway.

Meanwhile, arrangements have been made for Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit here. Policemen in thousands have been deployed for providing a foolproof security to VVIPs, including Mr VK Ramamurthy, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Sukhbir Badal, Union Minister of State for Industry, and Mr Surjeet Singh Barnala, Union Food Minister, apart from Mr Vajpayee who will participate in the function.

Raman town and Bathinda city have been cleaned and decorated with flags and welcome archs. Fresh coating of paints have been given to road dividers and roundabouts.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, State Minister of Food and Supplies, Punjab, said that more than one lakh people will attend the PM's rally. He claimed that many delegations of traders met Mr Badal at the site of the refinery to thank him for bringing the oil refinery to Punjab to boost the economy of state.

Three famous folk singers, including Gurdas Mann and Sukhi Brar, have been engaged to attract the crowd for the function. Mr P.C. Dogra, DGP, Punjab, supervising the security arrangements.

Meanwhile, Mr Hira Lal Zutshi, Chairman, HPCL, said that ESSO, an American company, might join in the oil refinery project being set up in joint venture by HPCL and the Punjab Government.

Talking to newsmen at Phulokhari village, 44 km from here, he said that a broad agreement with ESSO had been made in principle and further details were being discussed.

He said that a pipeline of 30 inch diameter from Mundhar to Bathinda covering a 1008 km distance for transporting crude oil would be laid for this project. The capacity of the pipeline could be increased any time.

He said that at present 26 per cent equity for the project would be made by HPCL and 25 per cent by Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC). The PSIDC would take back its equity after few years, he added.

He said that a captive power plant would be set up in the refinery which would go for production after four years. Another naptha-based power plant with a capacity ranging from 400 MW to 900 MW would be set up. The site for such a plant would be selected later on.

Mr Zutshi said that after the start of production in the refinery, HPCL might set up a Rs 4000 crore-petrochemical plant here.


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