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Modernization of Indian agriculture and the concept of Green Revolution has necessitated the development of fertilizer industry in the country. India is the third largest producer of nitrogenous fertilizers in the world.

There are, at present, 64 fertilizer units manufacturing a wide range of nitrogenous and complex fertilizers, including 38 units producing urea and 9 units producing ammonium sulphate as a by­product. Besides, there are about 79 units producing single super-phosphate.

The production of nitrogen has gone up from 8500 tonnes in 1951-52 to 111 lakh tonnes in 1999. Production of phosphate increased from 63,000 tonnes to 36-5 lakh tonnes during the same period.

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Development of the Industry

The first superphosphate plant in the country was set up at Rani pet (Tamil Nadu) in 1906. The production of synthetic ammonia and ammonium sulphate commenced in 1944 and 1947 respectively.

However, a turning point in the history of the fertilizer industry in India came with a plant at Sindri (Jharkhand). The Fertilizer Corporation of India (FCI), a public sector undertaking, was set up in 1961.

The progress was slow till 1966,, and steady thereafter, mainly due to the Intensive Area Development Programme (IADP) and High Yielding Variety (HYV) programme.

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The public sector has largely contributed to the growth and development of the fertilizer industry. The second plant in the public sector was set up at Nangal in 1956 by the Nangal Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd.

The National Fertilizers Ltd. (NFL) was incorporated in 1974. The FCI and NFL were reorganized into 4 companies in 1978.

The FCI has four plants, one each at Sindri (Bihar), Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Talcher (Orissa) and Ramagundem (Andhra Pradesh). Jodhpur Mining Organization, Rajasthan, a unit of the FCI is engaged in gypsum mining.

The NFL has five units, two at Nangal and one each at Bhatinda (Punjab), Panipat (Haryana) and Bijaipur (Madhya Pradesh). The Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd. (FACT) has three units-one at Udyogmandal and two at Kochi.

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The Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd. (RCF) formed in 1978 own four plants around Trombay and manage the gas based plant at Thai Vaishet (Maharashtra).

The Hindustan Fertilizers Coporation Ltd. (HFC) owns four units – two at Namrup (Assam) and one each at Durgapur (West Bengal) and Barauni (Bihar).

The Madras Fertilizer Ltd. (MFL) plant is at Manali (Tamil Nadu).

Besides the above, the SAIL, the NLC and the HCL have their fertilizer manufacturing’s at Rourkela, Neyveli and Khetri respectively. The Pyrites, Phosphates and Chemicals Ltd. (PPCL) incorporated in 1960, is engaged in pyrites mining at Amjhor (Bihar) and Saladipura (Rajasthan) and phosphates mining at Mussoorie. Single super phosphate is also produced at Amjhor.

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The Paradeep Phosphates Ltd. (PPL) incorporated in December 1981, is setting up a huge fertilizer plant at Paradeep (Orissa), a joint venture of India and the Republic of Nauru.

In cooperative sector – IFFCO (1967) and KRIBHCO (1980) are the two major organizations. The IFFCO has four plants located at Kalol and Kandla in Gujarat and Phulpur and Aonla in Uttar Pradesh and a gas based urea plant at Hazira in the Gujarat state.

In private sector – The Indian Explosives Ltd. (IEL) ICanpur, DCM Delhi, Coromandel Fertilizers Vishakhapatnam, (EID) Parry Chennai, Sriram Chemicals Kota, New Central Jute Mills Ltd.

Varanasi, Gujarat-Narmada Fertilizers Co (GNFC), Bharuch, Zuari Agro Chemicals Ltd. Goa, Gujarat State Fertilizers Corporation (GSFC), SPIC, Tuticorin and Mangalore Fertilizer and Chemicals (MFC) are some of the important companies functioning and manufacturing fertilizers.

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The fertilizer industry requires feedstock like naptha, coke, coke-oven gas, electrolytic hydrogen and natural gas and raw materials like rock phosphate, sulphur, high grade gypsum, etc.

Naptha.

More than 70% of the nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing units use naptha as the feedstock which is largely imported. Port towns and cities located near the oil refineries, where naptha is easily available, have fertilizer plants.

Coke and Coke Oven Gas.

Coal based fertilizer units are located at Talcher (Orissa), Ramagundem(Andhra Pradesh) and Korba (Chhattisgarh). Coke oven gas based plants are located at Sindri and Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Rourkela (Orissa), Bhilai (Chhattisgarh) and Durgapur (West Bengal). The only lignite-based unit in the country is located at Ncyveli (Tamil Nadu).

Electrolytic Hydrogen.

The Nangal unit of the NFL based on electrolytic hydrogen is located close to the Bhakra Nangal Power Project.

Natural and Associated Gas.

The Thal-Vaisthet (Maharashtra) and Hazira (Gujarat) plants are based on natural and associated gas from the Mumbai-High and Bassein gas fields. The Hazira-Bijapur-Jagdishpur gas pipe-line-based 6 plants are located at Bijapur, Jagdishpur, Aonla, Gadepan, Babrala and Shahjahanpur.

Rock Phosphate.

It is used as raw material for the manufacture of phosphate. The indigenous production in small quatitics comes from Singhbhum (Jharkhand), Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Jhamar Kotara (Rajasthan).

Sulphur .

Pyrite, the chief source of sulphur in India, is obtained from Rajasthan, Amjhore (Bihar) and Tamil Nadu, Sindri plant uses these reserves for the manufacturing of sulphuric acid. Smelter gases are used for the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers.

The Alwaye, zinc smelter supplies sulphuric acid to the plants at Alwave and Kochi. The Dcbari, Maubhandar and Khetri smelters have adjunct phosphate units.

Gypsum.

High grade gypsum is used for the manufacture of ammonium sulphate. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh produce gypsum which is utilized by the Sindri and other units of the FCI.

Regional Distribution (State wise)

The fertilizer industry is widely distributed throughout the country. It is, however, largely developed in the states of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Kerala accounting for nearly 50% of the country’s total installed capacity. Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Bihar, Maharashtra, Assam, West Bengal, Goa, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka account for the remaining capacity.

(1) Gujarat.

Vadodara, Kalol, Mithapur, Udhna, Kandla, Bhavnagar, Hazira and Surat are the major centres.

(2) Tamil Nadu.

The state produces Nitrogenous fertilizers.Neyveli, Ranipet, Tuticorin, Ennore, Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Avadi and Manali arc the main centres.

(3) Uttar Pradesh.

The state produces mostly phosphatic fertilizers. Gorakhpur, Magarwara, Varanasi, Phulpur and Kanpur.

(4) Kerala.

Alwaye and Kochi.

(5) Andhra Pradesh.

Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Tadepalli, Tanuku Nidadavole and Ramagundem.

(6) Orissa.

Rourkela, Talcher and Paradeep.

(7) Rajasthan.

Debari Saladipur, (Sikar district), Chittorgarh and Kota.

(8) Jharkhand.

The Sindri, Barauni and Jamshedpur plants produce nitrogenous fertilizers and the Dhanbad plant produces phosphates.

(9) Maharashtra.

There are three plants in Mumbai, Trombay, Ambaranath, Loni, Kalbhor and Thal-Vaishet arc other centres.

(10) Others.

Punjab- Nangal and Bhatinda, Assam- Namrup, West Bengal- Burnpur, Durgapur, Rishra, Kharda and Haldia, Chhattisgarh- Bhilai, Kumhari and Korba, Karnataka- Mangalore, Belagola and Munirabad, Goa- Sancoale (near Vasco), Delhi- DCM plant, Haryana- Panipat. These are the major centres of fertilizers industry in the country.

Trade

As the country is highly deficient in potassic fertilizers, it imports the same. The gap in the domestic production and consumption of fertilizers made good through imports for which the country has to spend a lot of foreign exchange.

During 1998-99 Fertilizers worth Rs. 4179 crore were imported from East European Countries, EEC, Japan, U.S.A. and Russia.

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