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Notification to acquire land for Nanar oil refinery cancelled, says Shiv Sena; CM denies ally’s claim

CM Devendra Fadnavis said the decision is not Sena industries minister Subhash Desai’s to take; MoU was signed 10 days ago

mumbai Updated: Apr 23, 2018 15:33 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,Mumbai,Nanar oil refinery
Maharashtra industries minister and Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai made the announcement on Monday.(HT File Photo)

In a move that could widen the rift between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), state industries minister and Sena leader Subhash Desai announced on Monday that the notification for land acquisition for the proposed oil refinery at Nanar, Ratnagiri, has been cancelled.

The announcement, made in the presence of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at a rally at Nanar, raised questions over the future of the project. However, responding to queries, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis denied that the state government had taken any decision to cancel the notification. Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, Fadnavis dismissed Desai’s announcement. “Desai has expressed his personal opinion; it is not the government’s decision. The government will decide what is in the best interests of the people of Konkan region,” Fadnavis said.

The decision to cancel the notification rests with the high-power committee under the state’s chief secretary and not with the minister, the CM pointed out. “No such proposal [to cancel the notification] has come before the committee,” Fadnavis said, making it clear that Desai had not consulted him before making such a significant announcement.

The Sena and the BJP are at loggerheads over the project, with the Sena maintaining that as locals are strongly opposed to the refinery, it should not be thrust upon them in the name of development.

The Nanar project is a joint venture between a consortium of three Indian oil companies — IOC, BPCL and HPCL — and oil giant Saudi Aramco. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Aramco and the Indian consortium on April 13. The mega project is expected to generate one lakh jobs and bring in investment of up to Rs 1 lakh crore.

Thackeray, who is on a one-day visit to Nanar, addressed a rally there, where he promised that the project would not take off.

During his speech, Thackeray took on the BJP and said the central government should shift the project to Gujarat or Vidarbha. “What happened to Gujarat, we will not let that happen to Nanar and Konkan. Let the project go to Gujarat. A BJP MLA from Nagpur has written to the government saying that the project should be set up in Nagpur, so take it there,” he said. Thackeray alleged that the “land mafia” had been buying land in Nanar following the notification. “Modi, Jain, Shah, and people with other such [sur]names have purchased land here,” he alleged.

Addressing the rally after Thackeray, Desai said: “Today, I wish to make an announcement with Uddhavji’s permission — the notification to acquire land for Nanar refinery project has been cancelled.”

At the event, locals demanded that the Sena leaders clarify the party’s stand on the project, pointing out that on the one hand, the ministry, under Sena’s minister Desai, had issued a notification to acquire land in May 2017, while on the other hand, the party said it was opposed to the project.

Responding to the queries, Desai said there was “no need to doubt” the Sena’s intentions. “Various political parties are trying to malign the Sena, but we are with the people of the state,” the minister claimed, adding that the Sena’s founder late Bal Thackeray had given him the definition of development — he said that “if something is against the people, it is not development”.

First Published: Apr 23, 2018 15:10 IST