Refinery project faces opposition again; organisation writes to CM seeking appointment

Published on Apr 14, 2022 10:02 PM IST

Refinery Virodhi Sanghatna, an organisation opposing the mega refinery, had on April 11 written to Thackeray expressing its disapproval

The letter said it did not want any mediator but wanted an appointment with the chief minister to discuss their issues. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)
The letter said it did not want any mediator but wanted an appointment with the chief minister to discuss their issues. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)

Mumbai: Weeks after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray wrote to prime minister Narendra Modi suggesting an alternative land for the Ratnagiri refinery project at Barsu-Solgaon in Rajapur tehsil, villagers have voiced their opposition.

Refinery Virodhi Sanghatna, an organisation opposing the mega refinery, had on April 11 written to Thackeray expressing its disapproval. The letter said it did not want any mediator but wanted an appointment with the chief minister to discuss their issues. The organisation said Thackeray did not take locals into confidence before suggesting the alternative land in Rajapur tehsil.

Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Limited was proposed in Rajapur’s Nanar, but it was met with stiff opposition from locals, including fishermen and farmers. Shiv Sena, which is headed by Thackeray, had backed locals in Nanar leading to it being scrapped.

An official of the state industries department said he was unaware of any such letter. “The piece of land that is being proposed does not have villages and it is barren. Even if there are a few adjoining villages, they are not directly affected. So, there is no issue of any opposition,” he added.

Sena will have to act cautiously balancing the project which would generate revenue and employment and people’s wishes.

Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg in the Konkan region are Sena’s strongholds where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could use this issue to make inroads. Sena leaders, including state industries minister Subhash Desai, have earlier said no project will come up without the consent of locals.

The project, touted as Asia’s ‘biggest oil refinery’, was supposed to be a joint venture between Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, and Hindustan Petroleum, and Saudi Arabia-owned Aramco and United Arab Emirates’ National Oil Company.

It was estimated that the project would bring in an investment of around 3 lakh crore and generate employment for at least one lakh local residents. The project was scrapped ahead of the 2019 assembly polls by the erstwhile BJP-led government in which Sena was a partner. Sena had put forward the condition that the refinery project had to be scrapped if BJP wanted a pre-poll alliance with the party.

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