It’s time to revive the 150 TPD Cement Plant at Weziho
S Akho Leyri
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]ODAY, the 150TPD (Tonnes per Day) Mini Cement Plant (MCP) at Weziho is the only major Factory in Nagaland State next to the defunct Dimapur Sugar Mill and the Nagaland Pulp & Paper Corporation Limited or Tuli Paper Mill.Likhimro Hydro Electric Project (LHEP) has been privatised and leased out to a private company. There is no more Sugar Mill and Nagaland Pulp and Paper Corporation Ltd (NPPCL) or Tuli Paper Mill will take some more time, may be even years together, to take shape to be fully functional.
The local people of MCP Wezihoarea feel it is time to revive the MCP at the earliest for economic prosperity of the state as well as for the benefit and welfare of the people.
MCP Weziho was conceptualised way back in 1982, production started in September 1992 and was running smoothly till June 2003. The production stopped in order to expand and modernise. Expansion and modernization of the upgraded 150TPD MCP completed in May 2008. However, the Plant is kept unused till today, 2013, five years after the completion of its expansion works. Mini Cement Plant, Wezihois the only State owned Cement Plant in Nagaland. Nagaland Pulp and Paper Corporation Ltd (NPPCL) and Doyang Hydro Electric Project are national projects. The Doyang Hydro Electricity Project is now completely owned by the NEEPCO and will continue to be in their ownership for the coming many years till 2099 as per MoU between the government of Nagaland and NEEPCO ltd.
Nagaland Pulp and Paper Corporation Ltd (NPPCL), Tuli suspended operations since the mid-1980s will now be revived soon. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved an amount of Rs.679 crores on June 4, 2013. The Paper Mill would continue to remain a subsidiary of the Hindustan Paper Corporation, owned by the central government while the 5% equity of the State would increase to 10% and majority equity would remain with the Corporation. The Paper Mill would soon be back on its feet with the recent funds of Rs. 679 crore from the Government of India for its revival.
Nagaland gets only 17 percent as power share from the NEEPCO 75MW Doyang Hydro Project of which 12 percent is free while 5 percent is billed to the state. 24MW Likhimro Hydro Electricity Project in Kiphire district, has been leased to a private company. The bottom line,150 TPD Cement Plant at Weziho is the only State owned factory in Nagaland today. The State cannot afford to lease out this when we have sufficient raw materials readily available very good quality of cement and the market prospect bright. Total amount of $ 22.22 crores was invested for this Project by the State Government by availing Negotiated loan spreading out in six years from Life Insurance Corporation of India (LICI) and HUDCO.
The expanded Plant was inaugurated on 28th June 2008 and trial operation was successfully carried out which continued for more than a month. Trial operation had to be stopped because of some teething problem in Raw Mill and Kiln section, which is now replaced and rectified. The Cement Factory is now ready for commercial production.
As per the policy of the Government, this Factory is to be privatised for operation on lease basis, which should generate more employment opportunities, more productivity and better quality Cement thereby expected more revenue to the State. Accordingly, advertisement for privatization was published in National Papers sometime in 2006 where one Private firm from Nagpur responded. The Firm’s representative visited the Factory site thrice but backed out just before signing the MoU, citing other commitments.
Another Private Firm from Kolkata showed interest in taking over the Factory and MoU was signed on 30th May 2008. Unfortunately, even after more than 1½ years, the firm hardly did anything for taking over the Plant. A meeting was held on 3rd February 2010 in the Office Chamber of the Chief Minister wherein, all details were discussed and decided to terminate the MoU, so that other interested Private Companies come in to take over the Plant.
A local Firm, Oking Energy Pvt. Ltd. of Kohima offered to take over the Plant on lease basis for operation and maintenance. MoU has been drafted in consultation with the Firm. The draft MoU after vetting by the Law Department and Finance Department was approved by the Cabinet in November 2011. Oking Energy Pvt. Ltd. was informed to visit the Plant site for verification of the Plant and Machinery before signing the MOU.
However, after visiting the Plant site, the Firm has raised two points, which were again discussed with the Firm in presence of the Chief Secretary and the issues raised were settled. The MoUwas again re-submitted to the Government for approval.
The Cement produced from the MCP Wezihois of 43 Grade O.P.C. which is the second highest grade in India. Mini Cement Plant was set up at Weziho based on the Limestone deposits, with a total proven reserve of 3.2 million tonnes (50TPD Mini Cement Plant requires a minimum proved reserve of 0.65 million tonnes). The limestone found at Weziho is of high grade quality having CaO percentage up to 54.
With vast mineral supplies (it is said that the region has limestone deposits of 10,000 million tonnes), the NSMDC is hopeful that tapping these resources could help Nagaland become a self-sufficient state. A road map is being prepared to ship materials at the nearest port in Tamanthi in Myanmar to export it to the Southeast Asia. Additionally, there is an opportunity to transport cement by road to Myanmar via the Avakhung, International border trade centre in Phek district.
In consideration of all these positive advantages on our side, the local people (land donors) desires that the Plant is taken over by the State Government through the Nagaland State Mineral Development Corporation (NSMDC) and start producing cement without further delay. It is understood that the delay has been due to the requirement of fund to meet the production cost.
Enough time has been wasted. At this juncture, the people are not in favour of Private companies taking over the Plant on the apprehension that as and when Private Companies take over, the welfare of the Plant workers and the benefits of the local people will be neglected and ignored in the long run in spite of any type and kind of MoU or Agreements made between the government and the people. Wasted five years in waiting for privatisation process without much positive development in sight. In this trend, neither the State nor the local people will be benefited. To allay this prolonged existing problem, the State should take over this Plant with in its responsibility to protect the interest and welfare of the local people.
Today, what the NSMDC ask is just a meagre amount of Rs.10 crores as production cost to start withand I am confident that our State should be able to manage it. When revival of NPPCL Tuli can be approved at Rs.679 crores, and Likhimro HEP and Doyang HEP spent in term of multi-crores for its continuity, it is surely possible for the State Government to allocate this small amount for this prospective Plant which has a bright market in sight. It will be in the interest on one side and a prestige on the other for the State of Nagaland to have its own factories such as this.
Therefore, it is time to revive the only State owned Factory in Nagaland and authorise full responsibilities to the NSMDC for implementationthereof. Hope, the government, with its slogan “Peace for development and development for Peace,” listen to the cry of our people out there.
Note:The name is ‘Weziho’ not ‘Weziho.’ Local people are shrouded in mystery of how the name ‘Weziho’ has been distorted to ‘Weziho.’ The concerned authority/department should regularise the divergence immediately.