I am back from my holiday and have discovered no earthshaking developments in the last few weeks. But the following news articles caught my eye.
First, Dow Chemical’s European arm and GACL have agreed on a 50:50 joint venture to produce 200,000 tonnes/year of chloromethanes at Dahej, on the west coast of India. The plant is likely to start in 2011. State-owned GACL would supply chlorine, power and lease land to the joint venture while Dow would license its technology and also bring its marketing and sales experience.
The project indicates Dow’s growing interest in India and the government’s desire to attract foreign investors. But both sides may find the going difficult as the Bhopal issue has yet to be fully resolved and continues to attract NGO attention. It was only a couple of months back that Dow faced strong opposition to its planned R&D centre at Pune.
This article from today’s Business Standard indicates that while some government officials are keen to close the Bhopal chapter, others would like it to end only if Dow cleans up the site. It also quotes the chemicals, fertilisers and steel minister as saying that he is against doing any business with Dow until the liability issue is resolved.
Meanwhile, yet another SEZ is facing public ire. This time it is the Visakhapatnam-Kakinada corridor on the east coast of India where the state government plans to develop a mega refining and petrochemical hub.
Locals are reported to have demonstrated in front of the district collector’s office at Visakhapatnam as they believe the industrial activity on the coast would ruin the livelihood of fishermen, destroy mangroves and cause ecological damage.
At Paradip, also on the east coast of India, environmentalists have voiced concerns over the dredging operations being carried by Indian Oil Corp (IOC) for its refinery and petrochemicals project.
And in Tamil Nadu, the Tatas have reportedly shelved their titanium dioxide project because of problems related to land acquisition.
But there has been some progress in Mangalore where the first phase of a proposed SEZ has received environmental approval. The SEZ includes an aromatics and olefins complex as well as a refinery expansion by MRPL. This SEZ had faced strong public opposition which I had highlighted in my previous entries.