Assam is one of the most vibrant states in the North Eastern region of India.. Assam is blessed with abundant river waters, huge hydrocarbon potential, large quantities of low ash coal resources, limestone and dolomite deposits as well as a few other unexplored minerals. The exploitation of minerals in the State mainly comprises of petroleum (crude), natural gas (utilized), coal, limestone and minor minerals. Petroleum (crude) is the principal mineral produced in the State.
Coal, petroleum and natural gas, limestone and minor minerals are in abundance in Assam. Tertiary coal occurs in North Cachar Hills,Sivasagar and Lakhimpur districts. Assam coal is friable in nature and has a high sulphur content. It is mainly utilised by local railways,steamers, and hydro power stations.
- Low moisture, low volatile cooking coal has been discovered in Hallidayganj Singrimari area.
- Deposits of banded magnetic quartzite occurs in Kamrup and Goalpara districts,
- Limestone occurs in Lakhimpur, North Cachar Hills, Karbi Anglong, Nagaon and Sivasagar districts. Kaolin is found in Karbi Anglong and Lakhimpur district.
- The Digboi oil fields in Lakhimpur district and Moran and Rudrasagar oil fields in Sivasagar district are the major source of oil and gas.
- Hydrocarbons were struck in Borsilla,Changmaigaon, Kurgaon and Rajgarh in the past. Sillimanite bearing rocks occur in Karbi Anglong district.
- Assam continued to be the 3rd largest producer of Petroleum (crude) and natural gas in the country accounting for 16 % and 8% respectively of the total production of this mineral in the country
Assam is well blessed by nature in respect of oil, which is termed as ‘liquid gold’.Presently in Assam, the refineries located at Digboi, Guwahati and Bongaigaon are in operation, while the fourth one at numaligarh is nearing completion. The digboi refinery is the oldest refinery in India.The digboi plant has an annual capacity of 0.50 million tonnes of crude which is being expanded to 0.65 million tonnes. The Guwahati Refinery has a capacity of 1 million tonnes while the Bongaigaon refinery with a capacity of 1.35 million tonnes, is being expanded to 2.35 million tonnes. The fourth refinery at Numaligarh will have a capacity of 3 million tonnes per year.
Like petroleum, natural gas is a valuable source of power and various other chemical by-products. It is a gaseous mineral of organic origin lying locked underground. The gas contains a very high proportion of Methane (85%- 90%) and some proportion of Ethane (8%- 9%) ,Propane(2%-3.5%) and Butane(0.7%-1.7%).
Natural Gas is normally found to remain in association with Petroleum.But in certain places it may be found independently. The gas found with Petroleum is known as ‘associated natural gas’, and that found independently is called ‘free natural gas’.
As Assam in rich in petroleum, so it is rich in natural gas. It is found in the Barail group of rocks (of Oligo-Miocene Periods) occuring at very high pressure and temperature.
In North-East India, natural gas is mostly found in Assam and Tripura.In Assam, almost all the petroleum producing areas of the upper Brahmaputra Rudrasagar, contain ‘associated natural gas’. Barak Valley, on the Valley, especially Naharkatiya,Moran,Lakwa and Brahmaputra Rudrasagar, contain ‘associated natural gas’. Barak Valley, on the other hand, contains ‘free natural gas’ in the Adamtila structure at a place 60 km away from Silchar.
The state of Assam is endowed with huge power potential based on coal, oil, natural gas and water. The state has nearly 28 p.c. of the total hydel power potential of the country. Yet the state has nearly is lagging behind many other states of India in respects of installed power capacity as well as in per capita consumption of electricity.
Attempts have been made by the the state government and North-eatern Electric Power Corporation, sometimes with the help of the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation and the World Bank, to build power stations. But nothing much has so far materialized as construction of such stations need enormous capital. The natural gas
provides an easy source of power. Hence as many as 5 major projects have already taken up to produce electricity.
A brief description of some of the Power Projects has been given below.
- Karbi-Lanpi Project:
This power project is at Amtereng in Karbi Anglong district. It is on the river Karbi-Lanpi. Its total power production capacity is 220 MW.
- Kapili Hydel Project:
This power project is located in North Cachar Hills District at Umrangsu. It has two barrages and two power houses. One of the two Barrages is on the Kapili River and the other is on the Umrang river. The one is known as the Khangdong Barrage and the second one as the Umrang Barrage. Out of the two power houses one is at Khangdong and the other one is at Its installed capacity is 150 MW.
Namrup Thermal Power Project:
This project located at Namrup in Dibrugarh district produces power from natural gas. This is the first of its kind in the whole of Asia.
Chandrapur Thermal Power Project:
This power project has been located at Chandrapur on the Kalang river at a distance of above 25 km from guwahati. The construction work of the first unit was completed in 1973. Its capacity is 30 MW. It uses Furnace oil/LSHS of Noonmati oil Refinery for producing power. The extension work of 2*30 MW unit of this project was completed in September 1979.
Lakwa Thermal Power Station:
This power project located at maibela in sibsagar district uses natural gas supplied by ONGC. It has three units of generators, each of 15 MW capacity. The project has got another 15 MW extension unit which was completed 1985. The construction work of the first, second and third units was completed in april 1981, 1982 and june 1983 respectively. Its total production capacity is 60 MW.
Bongaigaon Thermal Power Project:
This power project is located at Salekati 15 km to the west of bongaigaon. Its total capacity is 240 MW. This project uses coal brought from Raniganj coal fields of west Bengal.it supplies power to the A.S.E.B‘s power grid.
Bargolai Thermal Power Project:
This power station has been set up near Bargalai coalmines in the Margherita area. It produces power from the coal that contains more sulphur and less ash contents. It has got two generators capable of producing 30 MW of electricity each. So its total power generating capacity is 60 MW.
Forests provide numerous natural resources for the industry but they are not seen as the source of revenue but rather the source of livelihood of the common populace. The idea is to harness the forest produce in a sustainable manner and find alternatives wherever possible.
Plywood, veneer, pulp and paper, safety match box making etc are the main forest based industries in the state of Assam. In fact, Plywood industry is one of the major industries after tea and petroleum. The State forest is the source of raw materials for the above industries.Timber, bamboo, cane etc are the main useful products from the
forests of Assam.
For instance, Cane furniture of Assam was world famous but due to serious over exploitation it has become almost extinct. Assam has become a net importer of cane from an erstwhile exporter. Thus the main emphasis today is to meet the needs of people from alternative resources and revive forest based industries on sustainable models
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