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Saturday, 21 November 2020

Hexane shortage pushes solvent industry into crisis in Punjab

Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepur, November 20

Already facing power crisis after closure of thermal plants due to shortage of coal following farmers' "Rail Roko", the state is staring at yet another crisis as the agro-based industry is up in arms due to shortage of food grade hexane.

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BV Mehta, Executive Director, Solvent Extractors' Association of India

Need it badly as bumper harvest expected

The new season has just started and the industry will be working in full swing as we are expecting bumper soya bean and groundnut crop but the short supply of hexane can hit the production.

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Despite being produced by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) refinery in Bathinda, the hexane instead of being supplied to solvent plants in the state is reportedly being diverted to other industry outside the state for reason best known to the company.

The Solvent Extractors Association of India has also sent a representation to the HPCL regarding short supply of hexane affecting processing and production of edible oils and export of oil meals.

As per information, the matter has been taken up with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution besides the Ministry of Commerce to tell the HPCL to resume the normal supply of hexane without any further delay.

Sources said earlier, hexane was produced in HPCL's Mumbai refinery as well, but due to some technical reasons it was discontinued, leading to the shortage. However, the company officials did not confirm it.

Several solvex plants in Jalalabad, Guruharsahai and other parts of the state have closed operations and others are surviving on the reserve stock of hexane.

The solvent plants process various oil seeds, oil cakes, rice bran and other oil-bearing material by using food grade hexane to recover vegetable oils for human consumption and oil meals for cattle feed for both domestic market and exports, but of late the industry has been suffering due to shortage of hexane.

Talking to The Tribune, Ravi Kalra, Chairman, Solvent Extractors Association (Punjab), said if the situation was not brought under control, more solvex plants might face closure.

"We have asked company officials as to why they were not supplying the material despite raising indent," Kalra said. AR Sharma of Ricela Health Foods said shortage of hexane was affecting the produce.

Inderjit Singh of Kisan Solvex said he had some stock in reserve but the supply should resume immediately. "Notwithstanding the advance money, we are not getting hexane as per our requirement," said Munish Sharma of Sukhbir Agro Energy Limited. He said orders worth 1,200 KL were pending with the company and they had managed to get one tanker earlier, but that was not enough.

"The situation may lead of shortage of editable oil, besides rise in prices," he said, adding that the refinery was producing 80-100KL hexane every day regularly but it was being provided to other companies in Baddi and MP.

HPCL regional head Bharat Kaul said he was occupied and not in a position to reply. ASM Harsh Mani said it was a seasonal issue as demand and supply kept fluctuating. Other HPCL officials evaded a reply on the matter and preferred not to come on record.



from The Tribune https://ift.tt/3kRT1qc

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