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Sena and its Ministers divided over mega crude oil refinery in Ratnagiri

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
By Prashant Hamine

Shiv Sena and its ministers appear to be sharply divided over the proposed mega crude oil refinery coming up on the borders of Rajapur and Guhagar talukas in Ratnagiri district. While senior Sena Minister for Industries Subhash Desai speaking to newspersons at Mantralaya disclosed that the government has in principle approved the setting up of the project, local Sena MLA from Rajapur, Rajan Salvi and local MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg  Lok Sabha constituency Vinayak Raut remarked that no chemical project should be dumped on the local people. On the other hand senior Sena Minister for Environment Ramdas Kadam initially stated that he would raise the issue of in-principle approval to the project with party president Uddhav Thackeray, later amended his stand arguing that if all were in favor of the project then who was he to red-flag it.

A delegation of Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers, MLAs and former legislators from Ratnagiri led by Desai, Raut, Salvi, Minister of State for Ports Ravindra Chavan and ex-MLA Pramod Jathar (both BJP) met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at latters Mantralaya office along with representatives of 14 villages Sangharsh Samiti.

Desai disclosed that the proposed Rs 2,00,000 crore crude oil Refinery will be the biggest in the country and will be a joint venture between Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil Corporation who will form a company for the joint venture. The company will give direct and indirect employment to two lakh youths and local people. The proposed refinery will be spread over 15,000 acre of land between Guhagar and Rajapur talukas. Out of the 14 affected villages the proposed company will totally rehabilitate five villages and remaining nine villages are partially affected. The land acquisition process will take at least six months to a year to commence, he added.

The Minister for Industries pointed out the proposed refinery will be a Green Refinery producing the advance Bharat Stage VI emission norm fuel. Desai stated that the refinery will have Zero discharge of pollutants and will only burn that much of residue that is required to be burnt. He further argued that the representatives of the Sangharsh Samiti had stated that they were not opposed to the project but wanted the government to hear their views. The locals wanted the government to start a international level Mango Research Center. The company and the Babasaheb Ambedkar Technical University (BATU) will be asked to start skill development and training courses that will be needed to train local youth for jobs in the company.

Replying to queries over the Senas opposition to the proposed project, Desai stated that Sena will ensure that the demands and concerns of the local people are met by the government. He added that a coordination committee of the state government will be formed to ensure that the issues of the local people like jobs, local farmers, fishermen, orchard owners and others are addressed. Replying to queries over demands for higher compensation to locals for their lands to be acquired on the lines of compensation being awarded to Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor, he added that the compensation package shall have to be maximum given the mammoth scale of the project. Desai disclosed that the Chief Minister assured that the government will give what he called “permissible” compensation possible.

When asked for his comment on the developments, Senas Minister for Environment Ramdas Kadam initially stated that he will raise the issue of in-principle approval to the project when he meets party president Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday. When his attention was drawn to reports of all concerned parties agreeing to the project, he argued that if all are in agreement then there is no question of his raising any objections. Replying to queries, he said that he would seek his ministrys report on environment issues related to the proposed refinery.

However, local MLA from Rajapur, Rajan Salvi remarked “they (Desai and Kadam) are ministers, we are elected representatives. No specific commitment has been given. We continue to maintain that the project should not be dumped on the local people”. Local ocal MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg  Lok Sabha constituency Vinayak Raut remarked “we have told Chief Minister do not dump the project on the local people. Clarification on certain doubts and concerns needs to be addressed. Noted nuclear scientist Dr Anil Kakodkar had raised concerns over the proposed refinery coming up close to the site of the proposed mega Jaitapur nuclear power plant. Both the projects are just 15 Kms away from each other”.

Raut further contended that two such mega projects cannot come up so close to each other. He disclosed that the Chief Minister directed the officials to examine the observations of Dr Anil Kakodkar. The Sena Lok Sabha MP remarked that the Coordination Committee of the Sangharsh Samiti is not the real representative of the people, but the real representatives are the local elected representatives. Raut further remarked “at present we are opposed to the project till our doubts are clarified”.

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