Shiv Sena, BJP lock horns again. This time over proposed Konkan refinery
The notification for the refinery was being cancelled, the state's Industry Minister Subhash Desai said at a public meeting at Nanar village in Ratnagiri district, the proposed site. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, denied anu such cancellation.
"As the Industries Minister, I have issued orders to scrap the notification,” Desai said. On the other hand, Fadnavis said: “No minister can cancel the notification like this. That authority is with a high-power committee, which has not received any such proposal.”
Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently said Saudi Aramco, the biggest exporter of crude oil and natural gas liquids, was willing to buy into the the West Coast Refinery Project.
Villagers have opposed the project, citing it's “devastating impact” on mango and catchue cultivation. "The refinery, once operational, will lead to increase in ambient temperature. This will be fatal for the Alphonso and catchue growers in the region," said Nitin Jathar, a villager.
The episode is akin to the impasse on Enron Power Project, which faced similar opposition when proposed by the then Congress government. The BJP had opposed it tooth and nail. Late Gopinath Munde had even gone to the extent of saying that, if voted to power, the BJP would dump the project in the Arabian sea. It was proposed at Dabhol, also in Ratnagiri district.
At Monday's meeting, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said: "The BJP was free to take the project to Vidarbha. We will support it. Take it wherever they want, but Konkan. We will not spare anyone who will cause devastation in Konkan. It is the sin of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to impose the project on Konkan." He said that the so called Acche Din of Prime Minister Modi would prove disaster for Konkan.
Thackeray criticised Fadnavis for pressing for the project despite opposition by people. Desai had threatened to resign if the CM forced his way.
Immediately after the announcement, Opposition parties such as Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) came down heavily on Sena for making misleading announcements. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Radha Krishna Vikhe Patil, said: “The announcement is nothing but a cheap publicity stunt by Shiv Sena. The party has realised that it is losing ground all over the state. It is a last minute efforts to regain some ground.”
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said: “Shiv Sena is fooling people. Any notification has to be cancelled by the approval of cabinet and not on an impulse in a public meeting.” Shiv Sena spokesperson Dr Mahisha Kayande said, “Desai is empowered to cancel the notification as Industries minister. We have expressed the feeling of common man of Konkan.”
The project, proposed at the border of Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts, is a joint venture of Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL). It is proposed to be the world’s largest integrated refinery-cum-petrochemicals complex, with a capacity of 60 million metric tonne per annum.
The government expects an investment of $40 billion (about Rs2.6 lakh crore) in the project and would be commissioned by the year 2022.