Salt producers move high court against refinery, court seeks reply from Rajasthan government , HPCL by November 27
The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday, hearing a writ petition filed against the setting up of the oil refinery in Barmer, issued a notice to the state government and HPCL and sought clarification on the issue.jaipur Updated: Nov 10, 2017 18:37 IST
The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday, hearing a writ petition filed against the setting up of the oil refinery in Barmer, issued a notice to the state government and HPCL and sought clarification on the issue.
The court turned down the government’s request for four weeks time to reply on the issue and ordered it to submit the reply by November 27.
In the writ filed by Parasmal Kharwal, president of the salt producers’ committee--Shri Ashapura Sambhara Namak Utpadan Kshetra Vikas Samiti— said if the refinery-cum-petrochemical complex in Barmer’s Pachpadra is established, the mega project would ruin the salt mines and which can be established at any other land.
The petitioner’s advocate Rakesh Arora and Mahesh Kharwal pleaded before the bench of justice Nirmaljeet Kaur that the state government is going to establish the project in a town where salt is being produced for decades.
“We have pleaded before the court to stay the construction work until the case is pending before it,” said Mahesh Kharwal.
There is an agreement signed between the state government and salt producers, under which Pachpadra, where salt is manufactured, was declared as reserved area under the Rajasthan Land Revenue (allotment of conversion of land for saline areas), Rules 1970, vide a notification dated April 30, 1973, he said.
There are more than 200 salt mines located on the land proposed for the refinery, Mahesh Kharwal said.
After the announcement for setting up of the refinery by the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) at Pachpadra, a notification was issued by the state government in July 2013, in which while rescinding all earlier notifications with regard to declaration of saline area, transferred the land of saline area to the revenue department.
In the notification, the land situated in Sajiyali, Rupaji, Kathwara and Sambhara and Pachpadra measuring 12,034.10 bigha was taken back from the saline area.
As per the Rule 6(3) of the Rajasthan Land Revenue (allotment of land in saline areas) Rules 2007, the notification issued, said a saline area can only be rescinded only if the land has become unfit or economically unviable for producing salt, he said.
“In present case, the land in question is neither unfit nor economically unviable for salt production.”
Petitioner’s advocate told the court that producing salt is an industrial work based on natural source.
The refinery, is also an industry but it can be established on any land but at the same time the salt industry cannot be established anywhere as it is based on natural sources of salt in the land.
“If the saline area is allotted to the refinery, it will close down an industry based on natural sources at the cost of another industry which can be established at any other land.”
Salt producers who have been producing salt for generations, were never given an opportunity to plead their case before the land was allotted to the HPCL, he said.
“It is not a case where no other land in the neighbouring area is available to the government to allot for the refinery and as it was not imperative to allot the lard to HPCL at the cost of closing down the salt industry situated in the saline area.”
The proposed refinery has remained a big political issue in the state. The previous Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in state had inked the MoU with HPCL to establish the refinery at Pachpadra.
In September 2012 during UPA regime, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had laid the foundation stone for the refinery in Pachpadra.
Soon after assuming power in state, the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government, however, went for a review of the project, alleging that the MoU signed by the previous government was a deal of loss.
In April, Raje inked a fresh MoU with HPCL and announced that the work on the refinery would start soon.
Senior BJP leaders and official sources said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for oil refinery in the last week of November.