The latest decision to shift the project again to Lilala would virtually bring about a fresh political storm in the State of Rajasthan

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HPCL), on Friday, said that shifting the company’s proposed oil refinery-cum-petrochemical complex back to its originally proposed site of Lilala from Pachpadra, both in Barmer district, would further delay the project.

“The project has to be completed in four years. Shifting back to Lilala would definitely harm the project,” B. K. Namdeo, Director (Refineries), HPCL, told The Hindu.

The project, which was initially shifted to Pachpadra after an agitation, has now been beset by another controversy led by a Congress MLA. They claim that the benefits of the refinery would accrue to the people of Barmer if the project came up in Lilala, but would go to the people of Jodhpur if it was set up in Pachpadra.

“It is a Rs.37,000-crore project, and each day of delay will cost at least Rs.10 crore,” he said.

The Pachpadra site , Mr. Namdeo said, had many advantages such as availability of non-forest, uninhabited government land. The source of power for the project was closer to Pachpadra . Further, security related issues such as Pachpadra being farther from the international border and the Indian Air Force’s Uttarlai airbase, and closer to Jodhpur, the State’s second largest urban centre, would be an added advantage, he said. Besides, it was the people of Leelala who pushed the refinery out by agitating against it and demanding exorbitant compensation for their land, said Mr. Namdeo. Ancilliary industries would benefit Lilala too since the site was only a few kilometres from Pachpadra.

But if the State Government decided to bow down to the demands of the people of Lilala, the company had no other alternative but to restart the entire process besides taking up the matter to the board.

It would unnecessarily delay the project, said Mr. Namdeo.

The ambitious refinery-cum-petrochemical complex has been publicised as the single largest investment in the history of Rajasthan, and one of the big achievements of the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government.

However, the shifting of the refinery has opened up a Pandora’s box for the State Government.

Under the terms of the original memorandum of understanding signed between the State and HPCL, the refinery was scheduled to come up at Lilala.

However, owing to exorbitant compensation demanded by farmers for their land and other techno-logistical reasons, the project was shifted to Pachpadra.

The latest decision to shift the project again to Lilala would virtually bring a political storm in the State..

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