Reports of work resuming at oil refineries spark protests in Maharashtra


Before becoming CM, Uddhav Thackeray supported people who were protesting against the project

Before becoming CM, Uddhav Thackeray supported people who were protesting against the project

An anti- Oil refinery rally organized by Maharashtra’s coastal Ratnagiri district on Wednesday.

Following local opposition to the refinery at its original site in Ratnagiri’s Nanar village, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that the state government would not push the project. Before becoming CM, Mr. Thackeray, in his capacity as Shiv Sena party leader, had supported the people protesting against the refinery. But recent developments and statements by Sena executives, including Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, have hinted at a change in the party’s stance, reopening talks of setting up at a different location called Barsu-Solgaon in Ratnagiri.

RRPCL is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited. According to the agreement signed in 2018, Aramco and Adnoc hold 50% of the shares.

When asked about the project during his tour in Konkan, the state Minister of Environment said: “Every decision is made after considering local people’s opinions and discussing issues with them. The locals are taken into their confidence and only then further action is taken.” The anti-project group claimed that Mr Thackeray did not meet them, despite biding his time, but instead met a pro-group who was chaired by local Sena MLA Rajan Salvi.

According to sources within the Sena, local Sena leaders support the continuation of the project, although no one is open about it. Mr Salvi said the final decision would be taken by the Chief Minister. The local leadership of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supports the project, saying it will bring development to the region, while Congress has said it will support it unless locals oppose it.

The Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti and local village groups have started to mobilize people against the alternative site. “Our protest march on Wednesday is a first step and any attempt to force this project on us will be rejected and we will not allow Konkan to be destroyed,” said the Samiti’s Satyajit Chavan.

Mr Chavan said that since the Sena has now changed its stance and no political party supports it, the anti-project group will provide a political response by voting in the forthcoming local corporate polls. “These parties only understand the language of electoral defeats. We will make sure those who support the project are defeated in elections,” he said.

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