PM’s Speech at the Dedication Ceremony of the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery
Following is the speech of the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at the dedication ceremony of the Guru Gobind Singh refinery in Bathinda today:
“It gives me immense pleasure to be present here on the occasion of dedication of the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery to the nation. This refinery will fulfill a long cherished dream of the people of Punjab and will make a big contribution towards economic development of the State. Ever since the project was initiated in the year 2004, out government has been monitoring its progress regularly and I am happy that our long standing commitment to the people of Punjab has finally been fulfilled.
A total amount of Rs.20,000 Crore has been invested in this project. It has a refining capacity of 9 million tonnes per annum. I believe this refinery is an example of what the public and the private sectors can achieve in partnership with each other.
I compliment Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd., a public sector nav ratna company and Mittal Energy Investment Ltd., led by global captain of industry Shri Lakshmi Mittal for coming together for this very important venture.
I understand that this project has been completed in a record time of 42 months. This is a commendable achievement. I congratulate the promoters and the operating team who have worked tirelessly to complete this project on schedule. I hope the benchmark this project has set will serve as an example for such projects in future.
I am also told that this refinery is equipped with the latest technology. Its capability to produce Bharat Stage III and IV fuels reiterates our commitment to safeguarding our environment while pushing ahead with growth. The products from this refinery will especially help in bridging the gap between demand and supply in the northern region of the country.
The refinery sector in the country has shown phenomenal growth and India has emerged as a refining hub. From 62 million metric tonnes per annum in 1998, the country’s refining capacity has grown about three and a half times to 213 MMTPA today. We have sufficient refining capacity to enable us to export petroleum products.
The challenges we face on the energy front are formidable. We need adequate supplies of energy at affordable prices. Domestic sources of crude oil and gas are inadequate to meet the growing demands of our rapidly expanding economy. With imports accounting for about 80% of our crude supplies, the spiraling prices of crude in the international market have put a severe strain on our import bill. In order to insulate the common man from the impact of rising oil prices, the Government shoulders a sizeable portion of the burden by pricing diesel, Kerosene and domestic LPG below their market prices.
We need to take steps to conserve our scarce energy resources. There is no room for inefficient and wasteful usage of fuel, be it petrol, diesel, kerosene or gas. We need to adopt better technology and consumers should be made aware of the benefits of fuel conservation. We also need to rationalize prices and at the same time ensure that the poor and needy are shielded from the effects of such a rationalization.
Refineries act as catalysts for industrial growth and development in the areas in which they operate. I am sure that this refinery will provide the impetus for the setting up of a number of major industries and ancillary units and will lead to sustained growth and development in and around Bathinda.
Punjab has been the torch bearer of the Green Revolution. This State has contributed greatly to our country`s food security. The hard working farmers of Punjab feed the nation. The State has also had a glorious history of industrial growth, especially in the small and medium sectors. Almost every Punjab town and city has been renowned for specific industrial products - Ludhiana for bicycles and hosiery, Batala and Ludhiana for machine tools, Jalandhar for sports goods and so on. Over the last two decades, however, Punjab has lost its leadership role in many areas of industry. The State today needs a new wave of industrialization. Apart from contributing to economic growth of the state, such industrialization would also create new employment opportunities for the youth of Punjab.
We need more skilled people in Punjab so that they can drive the growth of industries. For this we will have to lay far greater emphasis on initiatives for skill development and vocational education in the State. Punjab has not lived up to its potential in areas such as Information Technology and we need to correct this situation. We also need improved infrastructure in Punjab- better roads and transport facilities, reliable power supply and so on. Ever since our government assumed power at the Centre we have kept the interests of Punjab in mind and this refinery is an example of the importance that we give to the progress of this beautiful state. I assure you today that we will continue doing everything possible to ensure that Punjab touches new heights of development.
Projects such as the one being dedicated to the nation today will help the process of industrialization in Punjab. The Dedicated Freight Corridor project will provide Punjab with rapid connectivity to the Eastern and Western ports. With these and other such projects, Punjab can once again become a hub of industry and can reclaim the traditional role it has played for centuries.
The average Punjabi is known for his robust health and high productivity. However, of late the incidence of cancer in Punjab has increased. I am aware that a large number of people in this part of Punjab suffer from this disease. Baba Farid University of Health and Sciences, Faridkot had requested permission to set up an advanced cancer diagnostic and research centre at Bhatinda. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has since granted permission for setting up two of the three facilities that were proposed. The third is being processed. We have also included Bathinda, in addition to Hoshiarpur and Mansa, as one of the districts under the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Diabetics, Cardio-Vascular Diseases & Strokes and Cancer.
I once again congratulate the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, HPCL, Shri Lakshmi Mittal and his company and the Chairman and Managing Director of HMEL and their team on the successful completion of this project. I would also like to thank the State Government and the people of Punjab and Bathinda for having helped at every stage of this project.
With these words, I dedicate the Guru Gobind Singh Refinery to the nation.”