Empty promises

The 100-day fever is fast spreading and the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilisers is the latest casualty. A very bland press release outlining what the ministry plans to achieve over the next three months has come my way.

I started reading the release with a great deal of scepticism and was convinced at the end that my doubts were not misplaced.

So what does the ministry want to achieve? On the fertilisers front, it plans to upgrade the fertiliser monitoring system to ensure timely availability of fertilisers and quick disbursal of subsidy, develop options to revive closed urea units, introduce an attractive investment policy and create a road map for restructuring of sick public sector units through financial restructuring and/or changing feedstock from naphtha to gas.

The PCPIR (Petroleum Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region Policy) dream is still alive. The aim now is to sign a memorandum of agreement with Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal before 30 August.

Other targets for the department of chemicals include speedy implementation of Gail’s cracker project at Assam and to start a plastic waste management centre at Guwahati, Assam and a plastics technology institute at Jaipur

There is nothing really new in what the ministry has planned. Many of these targets should have been achieved in 2008 or even earlier. The prime minister’s 100 day reforms mantra is laudable but I think the industry needs something more than just honouring old promises.

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