Will Oppose Any Move To Acquire Land For Refinery, Says Uddhav Thackeray

Cheryl Sanders
April 24, 2018

Mumbai: The dispute over a proposed Rs3 trillion mega-refinery in Maharashtra intensified on Monday, with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray demanding its relocation and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis digging his heels in even as his industry minister said he was cancelling the notification for acquiring land for the project.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis says the government will decide in the interests of the Konkan region, where the refinery is planned to be set up, and Maharashtra, indicating the project was on. "It's his opinion and not the government decision".

Following the cabinet meeting, Desai stuck to his guns and said, "I have ordered my department to initiate the process to de-notify the land acquisition [notification] for Nanar project".

Fadnavis later clarified that Desai doesn't have the power to cancel the notification. "As I give you this commitment that the Shiv Sena will not allow this project, you also have to make this commitment that you will not sell an inch of land to these Gujaratis", Thackeray urged his audience. The chief minister further snubbed the Sena calling statement of Desai as his personal opinion, not of the state government. He said: "When state industries minister Subhash Desai has said there will be no land acquisition for the project, the topic of whether Nanar will stay or go is irrelevant". Fadnavis emphasised, while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event yesterday, that the notification had not been cancelled.

"Even if the project does move to Gujarat, as the Chief Minister is warning, what is the harm?"

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). The BJP, meanwhile, has been keen on taking it forward. During his speech, Thackeray took on the BJP and said the central government should shift the project to Gujarat or Vidarbha. "Various political parties are trying to malign the Sena, but we are with the people of the state", the minister claimed, adding that the Sena's founder the late Bal Thackeray had given him the definition of development - he said that "if something is against the people, it is not development".

Former Chief Minister and Maharashtra Swabhiman Party (MSP) chief Narayan Rane, too, has stepped into the fray, backing those opposing the project and attacking his nemesis, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray. Locals allege that the project, if implemented, could ruin 14,000 hectares of fertile land besides the thriving mango and cashew nut cultivation for which the region is famous. Referring to news reports that Mumbai-based investors had purchased land in Ratnagiri district where the refinery was proposed to come up, Thackeray wondered "since when did people named Modi, Shah, Jhaveri, and Jain become farmers". "That authority is with a high-power committee, which has not received any such proposal". "Now let the government show us how they will go ahead with it. Let the CM overrule the Sena", he said.

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