As the Maharashtra Government clears the way for work on the stalled Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (RRPCL) project at a different location, locals on Wednesday held a rally against the oil refinery at Rajapur tehsil in the coastal Ratnagiri district. The RRPCL project is touted as the world’s largest single location refinery complex.
“We came to know that the Maharashtra Chief Minister has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, giving his approval for the new location at Barsu-Solgaon instead of the originally planned Nanar. Our opposition to the project is on a bigger issues concerning the environment and the possible damage this project would do to the Konkan coastline. We will not let the project move forward,” Satyajit Chavan of the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti said.
The Samiti, an umbrella body of several environmental groups working in the Konkan region along with village-level groups, organised the protest march on Wednesday.
Hundreds of villagers gathered at Rajapur tehsil protesting against the decision. Last year, following opposition to the oil refinery at the original location in Ratnagiri’s Nanar village, Mr. Thackeray had announced that the State government would not push for the project. Prior to becoming CM, Mr. Thackeray, in his capacity as the Shiv Sena’s president, had extended support to the people protesting against the refinery. But recent developments and statements from Sena leaders, including Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, indicate a change in the party’s stand, and talks resumed for setting up the refinery at a different location, Barsu-Solgaon, also in Ratnagiri.
According to sources, the State has agreed to provide about 13,000 acres of land for the project at the new site. The government argues that it will lead to minimal displacement as most of the land is barren.
RRPCL is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited. Saudi Aramco and ADNOC hold 50% stake as per an agreement signed in 2018.
Mr. Chavan said that since the Sena has now changed its stand and no political party supports them, the group that’s against the project will “give a political answer” by entering elections in the upcoming local body polls. “These parties understand the language of electoral defeats only. We will ensure that those who support the project will get defeated in elections,” he said.