Free Press Journal

Maharashtra Assembly adjourned for 3rd day amid ruckus over Nanar refinery issue


Nagpur: Despite Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis‘ assurance in the Legislative Assembly that the Nanar project won’t be forced on people, opposition Congress-NCP and ally Shiv Sena stalled the proceedings of the House on the issue for the third consecutive day.

The House witnessed three adjournments- twice for 15 minutes and once for ten minutes- before it was adjourned for the day as members of the opposition and Shiv Sena trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans seeking withdrawal of the land acquisition notification and the scrapping of the project.

After the Question Hour, Fadnavis told the House that the West Coast Refinery was in the country’s interest and the state government will take everyone on board before going ahead with the project at Nanar in Ratnagiri district.

Making a statement in the Lower House on the issue which rocked the legislature proceedings for the last two days, Fadnavis said, “The West Coast Refinery is important for our own oil security and export, for which we have signed MoUs with the Middle East countries.”

“Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh were eyeing the project. But Andhra was ruled out since the route was not proper. Maharashtra was given priority. The total investment is worth Rs 3 lakh crore,” he said.

He added that Gujarat’s economy has got a boost due to the Jamnagar refinery. “There is no adverse impact on horticulture and environment,” Fadnavis said.

The West Coast Refinery is a green refinery with fourth-generation technology. It will have the highest emission standards. A green belt will be developed around he project, he added. He told the House that the refinery is being modelled on the lines of the one in Singapore.

Fadnavis said 32(1) notification for land acquisition was issued but along with consent for land acquisition, there was opposition to it as well.

“Industries Minister Subhash Desai announced the withdrawal of the notification and the file has come to me. I haven’t taken any decision on it. Wherever there is opposition, we are holding talks to resolve the concerns. The project will not be forced on the people,” he said.

Fadnavis said the environment and social impact analysis would be carried out by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute(NEERI) and IIT Bombay.

“Talks are on to resolve differences,” he said.

However, the opposition parties and the Shiv Sena were not satisfied with the reply. The leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil demanded that Fadnavis announces scrapping of the project. Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said Fadnavis should explain to the people how the project was in the interest of the state.

“Saudi Aramco hires Pakistani engineers. Shall we allow Pakistani nationals into the country? Marine Academy and International Finance Centre have been shifted from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Why is the refinery brought here?” he asked.

NCP MLA Jayant Patil sought Fadnavis’s reply on whether the project will stay in Maharashtra or not.

“It is not possible to reply in yes or no. We will resolve the differences through talks,” he said.

“Shiv Sena opposed the Mumbai-Nagpur corridor, but after we explained the importance of the project, they are supporting it. We will arrive at a consensus, address all concerns and then only move forward, “he said.

Shiv Sena’s Sunil Prabhu said his party’s opposition to the project will continue and demanded that the project be scrapped. He said a nuclear power project, as well as a refinery project in Konkan, is bad for the region’s horticulture and fishing industry. Fadnavis said he had not given a presentation on the project to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. “I thought showing the presentation to Industries minister Subhash Desai would be enough,” he said when asked by Patil if he had shown the presentation to Thackeray.

The Sena members rushed to the Well demanding that the chief minister announces scrapping of the project. They were joined by the Congress and NCP members. Thereafter, the House was adjourned for 15 minutes by Speaker Haribhau Bagde. Later, after the introduction of bills, the House was again adjourned for 15 minutes by presiding officer Sudhakar Deshmukh.

After the business resumed later, Jayant Patil said the government was in a minority on the Nanar refinery issue and should not make the issue a matter of prestige. He demanded that the project be scrapped. Prabhu said the 32 (1) notification regarding the withdrawal of the land acquisition notification was approved by the chief minister. Thereafter, House was adjourned for the third time for ten minutes.

After the proceedings resumed, the Gram Panchayats Amendment Bill was introduced for the passage amid din. Jayant Patil said there was a contradiction in Sena’s stand as its members were opposing the government, but party minister Sanjay Rathod was moving the bill. The bill was approved by a voice vote and the House was adjourned for the day.