Sindri was a place with rich reserves of flora and fauna. The place was initially occupied by the local tribals which later on attracted people from neighbouring states. The chapter of its industrialization started when it was selected as best option for a fertilizer factory due to its apt geographical conditions in the year 1944 by the Viceroy's Executive Council following recommendations submitted in November 1944 by a three members technical mission consisting of G S Gowing and J Rigg, both of Imperial Chemical Industries and T H Riley of the Association of British Chemical Plants Manufacturers, Britain for setting up a single large fertilizer factory to produce 3,50,000 tons Ammonium Sulphate per annum with Gypsum as raw material.
A separate project organisation was set by the Government of India in 1945 under the Chief Technical Advisor, Brig. M H Cox. To end the system of diarchy and to replace the same with one of autonomy, a company named Sindri Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited was formed under the Companies Act, which came into being in December 1951 as the first Public Sector Company, wholly owned and governed by the Government of India.
The production of Ammonium Sulphate in the factory was started on 31 October 1951 and the factory inaugurated in March 1952. In his inauguration speech, the then Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru said that he was not just inaugurating a fertilizer factory but he was inaugurating a temple of modern India. The Company Sindri Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited was merged in January 1961 with another fertilizer manufacturing company Hindustan Chemical and Fertilizers Limited floated by the Government of India in July 1959 to form a bigger Company the Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited.
The factory was first in India to produce Ammonium Sulphate (1951), Urea (1959), Ammonium Nitrate-Sulphate, commonly called the Double salt (1959) and was the first fertilizer factory to have its own captive power plant in 1951 and to introduce planning, research and development facilities in 1951. The raw materials used initially for its final products were gypsum, coal and naptha.
A number of new plants were added to the factory as need arose time to time. A rationalization scheme was completed in 1976 and a modernization project was commissioned in 1979 with product-mix of ammonia, urea, nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and ammonium bicarbonate with low-sulphur heavy stock/furnace oil and coal as basic raw materials.
In 1978, the Government of India decided to reorganise the Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited and the National Fertilizer Corporation Limited, which was incorporated for fertilizer projects at Panipat and Bhatinda into five new companies. The Sindri fertilizer factory continued with the Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited along with aged-old Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) Plant and three coal based fertilizer projects at Talcher (Orissa), Ramagundem (Andhra Pradesh) and Korba (Chattisgarh) and newer plants and its Planning & Development Division were included in new companies, namely, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizer Limited (RCF), National Fertilizers Limited (NFL), Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited (HFC) and Fertilizer (Planning & Development) India Limited (FPDIL), latter renamed as Projects and Development India Limited (PDIL).
The Sindri fertilizer plant operated consistently in profit till 1967-68 and again in 1969-70. But in spite of modernisation, the factory could not maintain profit thereafter even after exceeding rated (attainable) capacity mainly because of unscientific division of the company, higher production cost and comparatively lower sale price of fertilizers, mounting wage bills, higher maintenance expenditure due to ageing of plants, availability of raw materials of low specifications/quality large infrastructure cost, and eventually the Government of India decided to close of the factory operation in September 2002.
Though the fertilizer plant was, of late, not an eventual commercial success but it certainly provided a wonderful social environment for a many of generations of people during its existence. The Bihar Institute of Technology now renamed as Birsa Institute of Technology was also established to meet the growing demand of technology experts in this new industrialized area. The institute still remains as one of the premier institutions for technical education in the state of Bihar and Jharkhand.
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