March 2015 \ Cover Story \ KEY POLITICAL INTERVIEW
“We have finalized mega plans to undo 10 years of neglect”

Interview with Mr Ananth Kumar, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India

  • STANDING TALL: Easily one of the tallest leaders in the BJP

Mr Ananth Kumar, the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers in the present Government, is set for big things. He has brought in a fresh thought process into his ministry, and has charted out a very detailed road map for galvanizing India’s chemical, petrochemical and fertilizer sectors. If his plans are implemented on time, then India’s economic performance will surely be applauded, and investments of billions of dollars will pour in. The buzzword of Make In India will also get actuated on the ground. The clarity with which he speaks on a range of issues shows why he is able to strike a chord with his electorate year after year—he has been elected 6 consecutive times to the Lok Sabha from the Bengaluru South constituency of Karnataka. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections he was pitted against the Congress party’s Nandan Nilekani, a former co-founder of Infosys and architect of the Aadhar card. Yet Mr Nilekani could not unsettle the heavyweight BJP leader from south India and lost by over 2.28 lakh votes. Mr Kumar won on the strength of his “tried, tested, trusted” campaign line. He had held several ministerial positions in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government. Today he is among a crop of young BJP ministers who are tasked to plan and deliver on the promises made by the party on bringing about India’s economic and social turnaround. He spoke to India Empire Editor Sayantan Chakravarty at his Parliament office

As an initiative under Make in India, you have taken a decision to fast-track growth in Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemcial Investment Regions (PCPIRs) in 4 states to attract investments to the tune of Rs 7.63 lakh crore and generate employment of 33.96 lakh. How is this progressing?
During the UPA period the entire thing was in limbo. To make such a thing happen, you require anchor tenants. Once you have identified them, you have to bring on the table state Governments. Then you need to have a steering committee. After all, the process of creating infrastructure in hundreds of square kilometers is detailed, and long. It is about attracting investments from across the globe, in order to make India a petrochemical hub. You bring in crude, refine it using cracker units to get the C2, C3, C4 and downstream industries. Then you create building blocks, then the plastic parks, pharmaceutical companies, fertilizer companies. It is an entire chain which to be completed requires railroad links, aviation and telecommunication facilities. All this combines to make a mega park. After our Government has taken over, Dahej as a brownfield PCPIR is almost ready. Paradip has started rolling. We have held meetings for Vishakapatnam, and Nagapatnam in Chennai is going to happen. To these four we are adding a few more—Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan are ready to have PCPIRs. Maharashtra is also looking positively to have one. In India you have 22 refineries but there are only four petrochemical complexes. It is a real anomaly. You can, therefore, go from 4 to 22, and you can go from 2.5 per cent value addition to 7.5 per cent value addition, which means instead of Rs 10 lakh crore of investment you can go up to Rs 30 lakh crore of investment, and from generating 37 lakh jobs to generating over 100 lakh jobs. We are using 230 million of litres of crude, and this value addition requires to be done. We need to milk the fuel.

You are very focused on setting up of new Plastic Parks. Please elaborate…
India, and indeed world over, plastic has come to stay. Today we are using 11 million tonnes of plastic, by the year 2020 we will be requiring 20 million tonnes of plastic. From agriculture to horticulture, in real estate, housing, automobiles, healthcare, telecommunications, space technology, everywhere you need plastics. There is no field of activity which does not have a plastic component and the amount of plastic in use is on the rise. Earlier it was 10-15 per cent. Now it is 30-40 per cent, even in areas like automobiles, space crafts, aero planes, agriculture, horticulture. In several areas the use has gone up to between 80 and 90 per cent. In your canal linings, pipelines, everything is plastic. In India, therefore, we require more and more plastic parks. India requires not less than 1 plastic park per state, but currently you hardly have four plastic parks in the entire country. We are going to fuel the construction of plastic parks in India. There is not only a misinformation about plastics—only two per cent of total plastic is used for polythene bags, but that two per cent is marring the image of the rest 98 per cent usage. The bywords for plastic are reduce, reuse, recycle.