Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Petroleum technology institute in Rae Bareli awaits land allocation

Five years after the government established the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology “to develop India as a global manpower hub” for the energy sector, the institute still awaits land allocation. Of the 125 acres required for the institute at Jais in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli district, only 47 acres have been allotted.

Around 200 Indian and foreign students are enrolled at the institute, which currently functions out of an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) building. Rae Bareli is the parliamentary constituency of Congress party chairperson Sonia Gandhi, widow of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Congress leads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre.

“The delay in land allocation has resulted in the suffering of our strategic intent. There has been an inordinate amount of delay,” said a government official, requesting anonymity.

The institute is expected to play a key role in India’s efforts towards energy security by training students from hydrocarbon-rich countries and was a part of India’s economic diplomacy policy aimed at enhancing relationships with such nations. The land allocation process was allegedly disrupted by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government that was in power till March 2012, according to a former petroleum ministry functionary, who requested anonymity. He said the delays were due to political reasons. The state is now ruled by the Samajwadi Party (SP), which supports the UPA government.

“The issue was also raised at Uttar Pradesh’s annual plan discussions. The state government keeps on saying that they are expediting it,” said the first government official quoted above. Abhishek Mishra, minister of state in the Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s office, didn’t immediately respond to queries sent to his cellphone.

The institute — promoted by state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC), Oil India Ltd (OIL), GAIL (India) Ltd, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) along with the oil industry development board — currently offers a master’s programme in business administration and two technical programmes.

“Though initially there was a requirement for 125 acres, due to delays in land allotment, the master plan was made for 47 acres only as we only had 47 acres in our possession,” said an official at one of the promoter entities. “The construction is on for 19 buildings, which is expected to be completed by March 2013. No further expansion is possible on the present land area.”

While questions emailed to the registrar of the institute late Monday remained unanswered, a petroleum ministry official requesting anonymity said, “There has been a delay over land acquisition which may affect the strategic intent behind the institute. However, I am hopeful that the present state government expedites the remaining land allocation.”

The government sees energy security as a key to economic growth, with India’s search for hydrocarbon equity abroad focusing on countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba, Angola, Nigeria, Sudan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Indian energy firms such as ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of ONGC, and OIL are trying to acquire energy assets overseas. Production from overseas energy assets contributes around 10.5% of India’s production of 90 million tonnes of oil and gas. Countries such as India that are dependent on imports to meet their oil needs are particularly vulnerable to supply shocks.

India, the world’s fourth largest energy-consuming nation, imports 80% of its crude oil and 25% of its natural gas requirements. It trails the US, China and Russia, accounting for 4.4% of global energy consumption. India’s energy demand is expected to more than double by 2035, from less than 700 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) today to around 1,500 mtoe, according to the oil ministry’s estimates.

The Rajiv Gandhi institute, according to its website (www.rgipt.ac.in), “has been accorded the eminence of being an ‘institute of national importance’ along the lines of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)”.

Source: Mint, October 17, 2012
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