Nanar Refinery Project: Only 13 of 95 villagers turn up for study tour to ‘quell fears’
To allay the fear of having a refinery in their backyard, a few villagers from the project-affected areas of the suspended Nanar oil refinery project were taken to Panipat Refinery and Petrochemical Complex (PRPC) in Haryana. The villagers interacted with PRPC authorities and tried to understand the impact of the refinery on environment and economy.
Although the state suspended land acquisition for the project in November, proponents (Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd) took 13 villagers to PRPC on a two-day tour from December 18 to 20.
The villagers from Konkan also visited residents of Baholi village that was affected by the PRPC project.
Run by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and commissioned in 1998, PRPC is spread across 4,222 acres in Panipat. The refinery caters to the petroleum demand (fuel refining and biofuel manufacturing) of the entire north-western region.
“Since the [Nanar] refinery is being opposed, we are trying to allay fears of Rajapur villagers related to the refinery. The doubts raised by [Rajapur] villagers were answered by the sarpanch and senior members of Baholi, during which they highlighted how satisfied and happy they are with the development the refinery brought along,” said Ajit V Morye, public relations officer, RRPCL.
Morye said although chiefs of all 16 villages, gram sabha members and residents losing large tracts of land for Nanar project had been invited, many backed out at the last minute.
Rajapur residents who visited PRPC said they are convinced that Nanar refinery will not cause large-scale environmental damage and create more jobs.
“Allowing a refinery in Haryana resulted in 53% of local population getting employment. We were told how the rehabilitation process went smoothly,” said Nilesh Patankar, chartered accountant and resident of Gothivare village, who is likely to lose 64 acres of land with more than 2,000 mango trees.
Another villager from Padve, who was part of the study tour, said agricultural land in Panipat remained intact despite construction of a refinery.
“Necessary measures were taken related to safety. A digital board near the refinery and in Panipat shows current pollution levels. It also displays information whether safety standards for air and water pollution are being violated. The farms look intact,” he added.
However, those opposing the refinery claimed the study tour was a ‘false propaganda’ to convince villagers to give up their land.
“Out of 95 people who were invited, only 13 went to Panipat. These are the ones who will benefit by selling their land because their mango plantations are dying. There have been four back-to-back blasts at the refinery in past one year.
The most recent occurred on January 22, in which one person died and four were injured,” said Satyajit Chavan from Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti.
A National Green Tribunal (NGT) order from November 15 highlighted a pollution issue at PRPC and directed state and Central agencies to submit a report .
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