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Sena, BJP cross swords over Ratnagiri refinery

Published On : 22 Dec 2017

Mumbai, (The Hindu): The mega greenfield oil refinery proposed to come up at Nanar village in Ratnagiri district has become the latest point of dispute between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena.

On Thursday, Sena MLA Rajan Salvi sought the Industry Department’s response to the demand of villagers to scrap the project. Mr. Salvi said, “Earlier, people put up a united front to protest against the 10,000 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project and stalled its progress. Now, the government wants to build a refinery close to it and destroy the natural beauty of Konkan.”

Mr. Salvi, who has been leading the protest by local people opposing the project, had also written to Sena leader and Industries Minister Subhash Desai demanding that the government make public its stand on the project.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis found himself being questioned after Vinayak Raut, Sena MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, made public his letter to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan requesting the project be shifted out of the Konkan region. Mr. Fadnavis, while speaking with reporters earlier in the week in Nagpur, had claimed that Mr. Raut had insisted on setting up the refinery in Ratnagiri.

Mr. Fadnavis also claimed that “commercial NGOs” were behind the opposition to the project. He said the NGOs were based in Mumbai and Chennai and had no stakes in Ratnagiri. Mr. Fadnavis said, “Chembur has had a refinery for years now. Did anyone die there? These claims are made due to lack of knowledge.”

He said, “These days even agitations have become a business. Why are these commercial NGOs making noise in areas where they have no association?”

Mr. Fadnavis said that the project would generate one lakh jobs in the region and would be one of the biggest green oil refineries in the world.

The Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd are jointly building the 60 million tonne per annum refinery.

The refinery, which is expected to be commissioned by 2022, has exposed the rift between Sena Ministers. While Industries Minister Subhash Desai has adopted a wait-and-watch approach on the issue, Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam has openly opposed the project.

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