A large number of villagers and several organisations hit the road on Sunday to step up their opposition to the proposed mega refinery complex at Barsu in Ratnagiri.
The move came days after newly appointed industry minister Uday Samant’s announcement that the government wants to implement the project.
Samant had said he would soon convene a meeting of stakeholders to remove misconceptions about the project.
The villagers, who had earlier opposed the development of the mega refinery complex at Nanar, declared that they would continue to oppose the project as it is harmful for the people and the region.
Satyajit Chavan, who has been spearheading the agitation, told The Free Press Journal, “The mega refinery complex will damage the biodiversity of the Konkan region. The villagers are strongly against converting the region known for its greenery, agriculture and fishing into a chemical and petrochemical zone.”
He also objected to the continuing geo-testing being carried out by the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Complex Ltd as there has been no approval for it from the panchayats in the area.
He said the testing is being done by the company with the help of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation.
“All the gram sabhas have unanimously adopted resolutions against the development of the mega refinery complex,” Chavan said. “The villagers’ opposition is not just for the sake of the opposition but on the basis of scientific data. The villagers favour sustainable development.”
BJP leader and Union minister Narayan Rane’s elder son Nilesh Rane apologised to people protesting against the complex for alleged mistreatment by his supporters. Nilesh Rane had visited Barsu village in Rajapur tehsil during the day to support an ongoing survey for the proposed project.
Ahead of the visit, villagers staged a protest against officials who came for the survey, while Rane’s supporters gathered at the site and allegedly verbally abused the protesters, including women. Nilesh Rane later apologised to the villagers.
As reported earlier by The Journal, Saudi Aramco may withdraw from the project on account of the time taken for land acquisition. Attempts are also on to reduce the refinery’s capacity to 20 million tonnes from 60 million tonnes, so that it can be developed by Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation.
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