Hyderabad: In a setback to the state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), the Ministry of Environment and Forests has rejected 'green' clearance for the petroleum major's expansion of Vishakh Refinery.
According to a senior official of HPCL, the MoEF has rejected the clearance as there is a moratorium on industrial expansions in some parts of Visakhapatnam, where the company proposed expansion.
HPCL had approached the Environment Ministry seeking clearance for the expansion of its refinery from 8.33 MMTPA to 15.00 MMTPA at Visakhapatnam District in Andhra Pradesh.
"The committee (under the MoEF) noted that the project proposal falls under critically polluted area. And as per the office memo on January 13, 2010, Ministry has imposed moratorium on further industrialisation in that particular area of Visakhapatnam. The ban has not been lifted yet. Therefore, the project was not considered for approval," the official said.
The project which was scheduled to take off in 2013 could not move forward for several reasons like environmental issues and partnership with others.
Another senior official of HPCL had earlier said Engineers India had been appointed as consultants for the project and by 2015-16, the expansion would be in place provided we overcome all the hurdles such as environmental clearances.
HPCL currently operates 2 major refineries producing a wide variety of petroleum fuels and specialities, one in Mumbai (West Coast) of 6.5 million metric tonne per annum (MMTPA) capacity and the other in Vishakhapatnam, (East Coast) with a capacity of 8.3 MMTPA.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in its Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CPEI) report had identified Visakhapatnam as the most polluted industrial cluster in the state.
When contacted, a senior official of Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board said there are seven major industries, including HPCL in the notified 'Bowl Area', where expansions are not allowed.
"The ban on industrial expansion was imposed in the Bowl Area in November 2009. Every year a committee comprising scientists, public representatives and Government officials will review the pollutions levels in the 'Bowl Area' and send reports to CPB. The last meeting was held on May 4," the PCB official said.
The HPCL official said as the ban continues in Visakhapatnam, all major investments are diverted to Rajasthan.
The PSU is now geared up to set up Rs 37,230 crore nine MMTPA refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Barmer district of Rajasthan.
A committee under the MoEF has also directed the HPCL to hold public hearing for the proposed complex in Rajasthan.