The Nanar refinery project in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district is facing opposition from a section of the local populace, which alleges it would destroy the ecosystem of the Konkan belt. A report on a Marathi news website has now raised questions about the land acquisition process.
According to a report on MyMahanagar.com, a total of over 200 plots of land in the region were bought by people from outside the state just two years ago. The people who bought these plots of land then consented to the land being acquired, thus earning a windfall.
According to the report, the people bought the land as they knew that the project would come up there. They allegedly bought land from villagers at a mere Rs 2 lakh per acre two years ago, and are now seeking Rs 35 lakh per acre from the state government.
The Nanar refinery is a $44 billion project, and is a venture of Indian, Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates oil firms. It is said to be the world's biggest integrated oil refinery and petrochemicals complex, with a capacity to process 60 million tonnes.
The controversy over the project heated up after 14 April when a consortium comprising three major Indian oil marketing companies— IOCL, BPCL and HPCL—signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Aramco, for setting up the project in the eco-sensitive Ratnagiri.
Immediately thereafter, the Konkan Refinery Shetkari-Machhimar Sangharsh Samiti (KRSMSS) and the Refinery Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti (RVSS) drummed up support among all major political parties soliciting their support against the project.
The Shiv Sena, which is a part of the government in Maharashtra, has been vociferously opposing the project. In April, the party challenged its coalition ally Bharatiya Janata Party to shift the proposed refinery complex from the state to Gujarat, even as the latter hit back viciously along with the Opposition to unleash a full-fledged political controversy.
"They (BJP) are trying to scare us by saying the project will go to Gujarat. You want to take it to Gujarat? Do it... We will not allow you to destroy Konkan in the name of development.. Konkan will not be allowed to become a Gujarat," Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray thundered at a public rally in the Nanar village of Ratnagiri.
The project is estimated to be spread over 15,000 acres and about 8,000 farmers may stand to lose their land because of it. At present, there are mango and coconut plantations on the agricultural lands.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured the state Legislative Council recently that the project will not be imposed on people. Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab said that the people of the area had given a 'no consent' letter to the state government and wanted to know if the project would be cancelled on the basis of this letter.
Replying to him, Fadnavis said, "We have earlier witnessed protests against the Samruddhi Expressway (Mumbai-Nagpur) corridor too. People had protested and gram panchayats had passed resolutions. However, we took everyone into confidence and explained the project to them."
"The Mumbai-Nagpur corridor was acquired only after everyone involved agreed to it. The same approach would be followed for the Nanar project as well," Fadnavis said.
Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt said that the environment reports of the refinery project were not available on public platforms. Fadnavis replied that a study on the project's environmental impact had been completed and another one was underway.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jul 23, 2018 20:33:43 IST