MLA, MP of Sena (UBT) at odds on Barsu-Solgaon refinery project

Updated on Nov 23, 2022 05:28 PM IST

Mumbai Days after facing a backlash over major projects slipping out to Gujarat, the Maharashtra government is pushing hard for the oil refinery project at Barsu-Solgaon in Konkan

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Mumbai Days after facing a backlash over major projects slipping out to Gujarat, the Maharashtra government is pushing hard for the oil refinery project at Barsu-Solgaon in Konkan. On Tuesday, state industries minister Uday Samant held a meeting with local representatives and senior officials in an attempt to reach out to those who are opposing the project.

Significantly, the development has brought to the fore the differences between Rajapur MLA Rajan Salvi and Sindhudurg MP Vinayak Raut, both from the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray). While Raut has opposed it, saying his decision is based on the sentiments of local residents, Salvi is supporting the project. There are speculations that Salvi—known as a hardcore Sena worker—could switch loyalties to the Shinde faction.

On Tuesday, Raut chose not to attend the meeting called by the industries minister and sent him a letter making his stand clear. Salvi, on his part, said that Raut had taken his stand as an MP but he had his own stand as a three-term MLA from the constituency. “I have put forth five demands before the state government for supporting the project,” he said after the meeting.

Salvi’s major demands were jobs for the locals in the project, the setting up of a skill development centre, resolving water shortage issues by providing water from the Arjuna and Jamada dams to nearby villages and towns and setting up a super-speciality hospital in the vicinity. Most of the demands were accepted by the industries minister who lauded the MLA for supporting the oil refinery. The project is expected to bring in an investment of 2 lakh crore and create as many as 78,000 jobs.

Defending his stand, Salvi said it was the locals who wanted the refinery project, because of which he had decided to support it as a public representative. When asked about his personal choice between the two factions of the party, he avoided saying that he would remain loyal to the Uddhav-led faction. “With the blessings of Balasaheb Thackeray, I have been working in Konkan for the last 40 years. My loyalty is with him and will be with him no matter what,” he said.

The refinery project was earlier proposed to be set up at Nanar in the same district but was scrapped owing to opposition by locals, subsequently upheld by the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, the erstwhile partner in the Devendra Fadnavis-led government in 2019. In March, Thackeray pushed for Barsu-Solgaon, 20 km away from Nanar, as an alternative site. He also sent a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi informing him that around 13,000 acres of land were available in Barsu-Solgaon for the refinery and another 2,144 acres for the crude oil terminus at nearby Sakri Nate village.

Manisha Kayande, Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson, said that the party had strong reasons to oppose the oil refinery project but if people believed that it was in their interest, the party leadership would consider it. “The Shiv Sena always goes by people’s sentiments. It was, of course, our stand to oppose the oil refinery at Nanar but if people want the project, then Uddhav ji will take a stand,” Kayande said.

The major reason for locals’ resistance to the project was that their land would be acquired by the government. Samant said the amount had now been reduced to 6,200 acres from 13,000 acres owing to a change of plan by the central government. “Of this 6,200 acres, approvals for 2,900 acres have come from the concerned land owners for acquisition. We will ensure no injustice is done to farmers and are open to discussions,” he added.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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