- Urea may be be the first big-ticket item where the Indian government is set to realise its plans of ‘atmanirbharta’ (self-reliance).
- The success of these plants will reduce dependence on Chinese imports.
- There will be commissioning of four new plants before 2021.
- In addition, a fifth plant is expected in 2023, for which the lump-sum turnkey execution contract has, incidentally, been awarded to a Chinese state-owned firm Wuhuan Engineering.
- The five new units are of 1.27 mt per annum production capacity each.
- Once they, and three others currently shut or in the process of getting gas, are functional, we will become atmanirbhar in urea by 2023-24,” said a top government official.
- The first of the five plants, at Ramagundam in Telangana, will be ready in October, just before the next rabi crop season.
- It will be implemented by Ramagundam Fertilisers & Chemicals – a joint venture of National Fertilisers, Engineers India and Fertilisers Corporation of India Ltd.
- It is basically a revival project of a closed state-owned unit, similar to the others at Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Sindri (Jharkhand), Barauni (Bihar) and Talcher (Odisha).
A hike of 9mt
- The lump-sum turnkey contract was awarded to Wuhuan Engineering Co. Ltd last September.
- It is a commercial deal between the Wuhan-based technology provider-cum-EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) contractor and Talcher Fertilisers Ltd (a consortium of CIL, GAIL India, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilisers and FCIL),” the official explained.
- The Talcher project is projected to cost around Rs 13,300 crore, as against the Rs 5,500 crore of Ramagundam and Rs 7,000 crore each for the other three.
- “If they are operational through new promoters, we can increase our production capacity by 9 mt-plus, from the existing 24-24.5 mt. There would hardly be any need for imports then,” the officials added.
Critics and the counter arguments
- Critics of the atmanirbharta mission in urea note that make-in-India is more expensive than imports.
- The current landed cost of imported urea is below $ 240 per tonne.
- The difference between imported and domestically-produced urea would come to $ 70-90 per tonne.
- The counter to this argument, however, is that the import cost is for bulk urea arriving in vessels at ports, as opposed to fully-bagged domestically-manufactured material.
- Factoring in import duty, stevedoring and bagging charges – plus the fact that the new plants are in the northern and eastern hinterland home to the next Green Revolution – will further bring down the price differential.
- On top of that is the “psychological gains” from cutting down imports, particularly from China.
2. Google announces $10 billion
- Tech giant Google announced a India Digitization Fund.
- Under which the company will invest $10 billion (about ?75,000 crore) over the next five-seven years.
- “We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during a virtual event.
Investment will focus on four areas
- The investment will focus on four areas.
- Enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language,
- Building new products and services that are deeply relevant to its unique needs,
- Empowering businesses for their digital transformation journey and leveraging technology,
- AI for social good in areas like health, education, and agriculture.
- Talking about small businesses, the Indian-born Google CEO said four years ago, only one-third of all small businesses in India had an online presence.
- Today, 26 million SMBs are now discoverable on Search and Maps, driving connections with more than 150 million users every month.
- There’s no question we are facing a difficult moment today, in India and around the world.
- The dual challenges to our health and to our economies have forced us to rethink how we work and how we live.
- But times of challenge can lead to incredible moments of innovation. Our goal is to ensure India not only benefits from the next wave of innovation, but leads it. Working together we can ensure that our best days are still ahead.
- This is a significant move in the middle of the pandemic, which speaks of India’s openness and attractiveness as an investment destination, said sources in the government.