Maharashtra: Now, villagers ‘want’ Nanar refinery project

The controversy over the mega refinery project with an investment of Rs 3 lakh crore in Sindhudurg district has taken a new twist. Those opposing the project at Nanar site on Saturday now want the project to come up in the larger interest of the region. They made a representation to the Housing Minister Dr Jitendra Awhad with a plea to convey their support to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray so that the project development starts at the earliest. The project has been envisaged on 15,000 acre in Sindhudurg and 1,000 acre in Ratnagiri. Incidentally, of the 15,000 acre, villagers who own 8,500 acre of land, have come together with a strong plea that the state government should not scrap the refinery project but allow its development at Nanar. The villagers today argued that the project development will help generate jobs, boost development of the region and open up opportunities for various businesses.

The project has been proposed by a joint venture between IOC, HPCL and BPCL and Saudi Petroleum giant Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Dr Awhad told FPJ, ‘’ A delegation of villagers has submitted a memorandum and requested me to take their case with the CM. I have assured them to meet the CM and also NCP chief Sharad Pawar.’’ The project hogged headlines following strong opposition from villagers and Shiv Sena, the BJP-led government in March last year had cancelled the project notification order.

After the Maha Vikas Aghadi government came to power there has been no movement. Villagers told Dr Awhad that the opposition to the project was out of misinformation and misunderstanding which was the handiwork of local politicians. One of the villagers said, “A strong campaign was run saying that with the refinery development the hot water will be released damaging fish and sea water. It will adversely impact horticulture and the environment. However, these misconceptions are clear now.’’

Advocate Shashikant Sutar alleged, “People want the project. But the local MP is opposing the project by representing 2 out of 14 villages. We want to put up our case before the CM but we do not get an opportunity. Hence, we are pleading our case before ministers and elected representatives.’’ Sutar reminded that CM Thackeray during the BJP led government and later after assuming power had reiterated that Shiv Sena will stand with the villagers.

“The CM needs to support us” he said. Recently, a group of economists and experts, including Vijay Kelkar and Raghunath Mashelkar had told the CM that the refinery project should remain in the state and should not be scrapped. The state government had asked CIDCO to survey an alternate site at Roha, Raigad district. However, the CIDCO has yet to submit its findings. The government has not made any moves on refinery development.

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