Uncomfortable allies Shiv Sena and BJP fight on new battleground: Coastal Maharashtra's Nanar refinery
The alliance between the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra has run into more trouble, this time over the contentious Nanar refinery project, a 15,000-acre project planned in Nanar village of Ratnagiri district in coastal Konkan region
The alliance between the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra has run into more trouble, this time over the contentious Nanar refinery project, a 15,000-acre undertaking planned in Nanar village of Ratnagiri district in coastal Konkan region. It is around 350 kilometres away from Mumbai.
However, the Sena isn't too happy with things. A strongly worded editorial in the party's mouthpiece Saamana compared the relationship between the two allies as "post-divorce". "Though the state government is running on Sena's support, it is living a post-divorce life. The Maharashtra government is one of the best examples of how to be together, clearly under coercion, and maintain the 'alliance' even when there is no correspondence with each other", it said.
Why the opposition?
The Sena said the refinery project will destroy the ecosystem in the coastal village. "Mango and jackfruit crops will be destroyed. The sea will get polluted affecting the quality of the fish", the article argued further, adding that the Konkan region is in a scenic part of Maharashtra.
Party leader Sanjay Raut, who pens the editorials, likened the project to the Ram Temple being destroyed in Ayodhya and a temple of Ravana being erected in its place.
Raut also accused Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of reneging on his promise that the Nanar project would not continue if locals were opposed to it. "Gujaratis and Marwaris are buying up land in and around Nanar", he said, while adding, "The dust of confusion is everywhere in the state. The government has lost itself in the dust".
Industries Minister Subhash Desai even cancelled the land acquisition notification, but Fadnavis then expressed his anger at this and said the order shouldn't have been cancelled.
Why is the project so important?
A consortium of oil marketing companies — Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) — signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop and build a refinery and petrochemicals complex, called the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited.
The refinery will be capable of processing 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day (60 million metric tonnes per annum) and also produce refined petroleum products including petrol and diesel meeting the BS-VI fuel efficiency norms.
It's also important that the refinery be located at the precise location chosen because there is a port nearby and will be used for transporting the oil. Fadnavis appeared to say as much when he shot down a proposal to shift the refinery to Vidarbha. "Proposed refinery project at Nanar needs sea near the project. It is not an inland project and hence it is highly impossible to shift it to Vidarbha", Fadnavis was quoted as saying in The Free Press Journal.
"This is a central government project. The oil will be carried through underground pipelines under sea. There is no financial provision to lay pipelines on the ground and stretch it up to Vidarbha, and hence it will be set up in Konkan region only", he added.
With inputs from agencies
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