Ministry may give green nod to Adani’s coal-to-PVC plant
- The environment ministry’s impact assessment division granted standard terms of reference (TOR) to the plant on April 17. The grant of TOR is one of the first steps in the environmental clearance process.
Union environment ministry is considering granting environmental clearance to a coal-to-PVC plant that will come up in Gujarat’s Kachchh district, said people familiar with the matter.
The unit that is being set up by Adani Enterprises will have a poly-vinyl-chloride (PVC) production capacity of 2000 KTPA (Kilo Tons Per Annum) requiring 3.1 million metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) of coal that will be imported from Australia, Russia and other countries.
The environment ministry’s impact assessment division granted standard terms of reference (TOR) to the plant on April 17. The grant of TOR is one of the first steps in the environmental clearance process.
The project will come up at a cost of ₹29,000 crores (US $ 4 billion). Coal is likely to be blended with pet coke , and blending of other coals such as Anthracite Coal is also being explored for the project according to documents on environment ministry’s Parivesh website, seen by HT.
A report in the Guardian published on June 18 suggested that the PVC unit will be using coal from Bravus Mining and Resources’ (formerly Adani Australia) Carmichael coal mine which is mired in environmental controversies and litigation.
Bravus Mining and Resources, however, put out a statement on Friday that “Carmichael coal, like any other traditional thermal coal, is not suitable for use in plastics. It is suitable for use in energy and electricity generation and has always been intended for that use.”
It added that “India will be a foundation customer for the Carmichael Project and is the fourth largest global user of electricity as well as the source of the biggest growth in global energy demand (source International Energy Agency).”
According to documents on Parivesh website, no change in land use will be required as 278.79 ha of identified land for the project belongs to the Adani Ports and SEZ (APSEZ) and is already designated for industrial purpose. Forest clearance for 1840 ha of forest land was granted in 2009.
The rationale for the project according to Adani Enterprises’ submission to the environment ministry is that PVC demand in India is around 3.5 MTPA which is growing at the rate of 7% year on year.
With stagnancy in domestic production of PVC at 1.4 MTPA, India is dependent on imports to keep pace with the demand.
“Adani Group is the largest private power producer in India. Power is an important raw material for powering extensive plants such as coal to PVC. In this context, Adani group is planning to come up with a coal-to-PVC project at Mundra, Bhuj, Gujarat. The proposed project will reduce import dependency of polymers and promote domestic manufacturing of polymers, in line with the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative,” the pre-feasibility report of the project states.
In response to a questionnaire from HT, an Adani spokesperson said: “At the outset, coal from the Carmichael Project in Australia is not suitable for the PVC plant. Secondly, it is widely proven that using coal as a chemical feedstock to produce PVC is less polluting as compared to conventional methods such as petrochemical refinery and ethylene cracker. Further, PVC is not toxic or single-use plastic, but an infrastructure material with a life span of several decades.”
“Thirdly, given that the project is energy-intensive , the Adani Group’s massive renewable capacity of 24+ GW will enable it to make this a low carbon-intensive project,” the spokesperson added.
The member secretary (Industrial Projects) of the expert appraisal committee assessing the project was not available for comment on Friday, his secretary said. A senior environment ministry official said “all the information is available on the website. We have nothing else to add.”
According to an Overview on Plastic Waste released by the Central Pollution Control Board in 2013, during polymerization process fugitive emissions are released.
“This case brings together two highly controversial projects in Australia and India. Large amount of Mundra’s forest land diverted in 2009, has remained unutilized. In 2008, the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommended rejecting the proposal for diversion on grounds of its ecological sensitivity, and repeated requests to change of purpose for which the land should be diverted. Prior to diversion, these areas were coastal commons also used by nearby villages and seasonal pastoralists. Post approval they are devoid of mangroves and fenced off . The forest clearance allowed large part of the diverted land to be securitized and remain unutilized for the last 12 years,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher, Centre for Policy Research.