Free Press Journal

Nanar refinery project: As political parties tussle over BJP’s ambitious project, will farmers’ protest find a voice?


The Nanar refinery project or also known as the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPCL) has landed itself in some kind of a jinx in the midst of a political tussle.

But it is a million-dollar question as to whether the gigantic refinery in Nanar will become a reality. Well, this had now become an ego tussle between BJP and rest of the political parties, which might sooner or later after 2019 general elections. Farmers might be forgotten, and could be left by themselves protesting.

What is the Nanar refinery project?

The behemoth Nanar refinery project is worth Rs 3 lakh crore and for which the state government has also issued a notification for land acquisition in May 2017. The project will be spread across 14,000 acres of land in 14 villages of Ratnagiri and 1,000 acres in two villages of Sindhudurg, the neighbouring district. For this project Saudi Aramco, on April 11, became a partner with three state-owned companies. Saudi Aramco initiated joint venture with three state-owned companies, the Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation. Saudi Aramco and another potential investor will hold 50%, IOC will own 25% and HPCL and BPCL 12.5% each. The refinery will process 1.2 million barrels of crude per day, or 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).

Why are farmers against the protest?

It’s obvious that people staying in those villages are going to get affected by the project, and in this case of Nanar, around 14 villages across who have opposed the project, are going to lose their homes, their farms, their livelihoods, and way of life.

Ratnagiri a coastal area which is known for its scenic coastal beauty will get affected due to the project. From the land on which the refinery will be established, neighbouring areas will get affected as well. The pollution resulting from the refinery will affect land for miles and the seas. Remember that having refinery there means tankers plying the sea routes, which means pollution from operations as well as the danger of spills, this might also endanger the fishes that breed in these sea areas.

It’s just not their farms and homes, they will also be plagued with unemployment as they may not get employment because they may not have, at this moment, the skills to do so. They may get unskilled work, of course as we have seen in other mining projects in India, but which is less then what they will sacrifice.

Political tussle over the project

While there is a lot at stake here for the Union government, which is the majority owner of the three Indian companies in the venture and which is also ruled by a BJP-led coalition, given the size of the project. The success of the project is also crucial for PM Narendra Modi who wants to woo the foreign investors.

On the other hand, the BJP-led Maharashtra government has been facing all sorts of critics and opposition from most of the political parties including its ally, lately friend-turned-foe, the Shiv Sena. After facing backlashes, Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis made a statement saying that “the project will be shifted to Gujarat if it doesn’t get land in Maharashtra,” which might have been the biggest nightmare scenario for him.

While political parties like Congress, NCP, MNS are at loggerheads with the BJP over the project, the project has now become a political agenda for upcoming 2019 general elections. While politicians are showing all sorts of sympathy towards the villagers, who are having a nightmare because of the project, are still not sure if the project will be stalled or no. The ambitious project has giving sleepless nights to farmers and villagers who are now stuck in between political tussle, and only a messiah can pull them out of it.

(Disclaimer! The views expressed by the writer are personal)