Ratnagiri project won’t proceed until protesters’ doubts are cleared, Maharashtra Minister assures NCP supremo

Maharashtra Government is ready to discuss all issues with protesters, says Industries Minister Uday Samant

May 01, 2023 10:06 pm | Updated 10:06 pm IST - Mumbai

Maharashtra Industries Minister Uday Samant met NCP leader Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on May 1 to brief him about the Ratnagiri Refiner Project. Photo Credit: @samant_uday/Twitter

Maharashtra Industries Minister Uday Samant met NCP leader Sharad Pawar in Mumbai on May 1 to brief him about the Ratnagiri Refiner Project. Photo Credit: @samant_uday/Twitter

Barely a week after meeting Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar and briefing him on the situation at Ratnagiri’s Barsu, where villagers are protesting against the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (RRPCL) project, Maharashtra Industries Minister Uday Samant met the NCP leader again in Mumbai on May 1.

The multi-billion dollar project is touted as the world’s largest single location refinery complex,

Mr. Samant informed Mr. Pawar that the Shinde-Fadnavis government would not forcibly proceed with the project until the misconceptions of the protesters were resolved.

“We will move forward only after taking the protesters into confidence. We are ready to discuss all issues pertaining to the project,” Mr. Samant said. He met the NCP patriarch at his Silver Oak residence in south Mumbai, after having a discussion with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

The Maharashtra government on April 25 started soil testing at Barsu to know if the site was suitable for the proposed project and since then hundreds of residents are protesting the government’s decision as they are concerned about the potential impact on the environment and the livelihoods of local communities.

ALSO READ | Rane-Thackeray rivalry spills over to Barsu row

The Konkan region is ecologically sensitive, with several species of flora and fauna endemic to the area. The current dispensation alleged that some of the Opposition parties were instigating the villagers for political mileage.

On April 28, the protest intensified after police used tear gas canisters and resorted to lathi charge to disperse the crowd.

Police personnel attempt to stop local women of Barsu village during the latter’s protest against the petrochemical refinery project in the area, at Rajapur taluka in Ratnagiri district on April 25, 2023.

Police personnel attempt to stop local women of Barsu village during the latter’s protest against the petrochemical refinery project in the area, at Rajapur taluka in Ratnagiri district on April 25, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

“The farmers there have doubts about the refinery. I have assured Mr. Pawar on behalf of the State government that it will not be taken forward without clearing the doubts of the locals. We are prepared to discuss all issues pertaining to the project,” the Minister said, adding that other than the refinery, they did not discuss any issue.

According to Ratnagiri Police, so far, 201 protesters, including 181 women, were booked under Sections related to assaulting public servants, rioting, unlawful assembly and disobedience to public order.

Recently, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut said that Marathi ‘manoos’ from Ratnagiri, the sons of the soil, were being attacked by the police for an ‘Islamic’ oil refinery project from Saudi Arabia even as there was a ‘Hindutvawadi’ government in the State. “This is their [the current dispensation’s] Hindutva,” he said.

Earlier, Mr. Samant pointed out that the Barsu site, instead of Nanar in the same district, was suggested by then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and now the project was being opposed only because Mr. Shinde is the Chief Minister, to which Mr. Thackeray said though he had suggested Barsu as an alternative site, he would have moved ahead with it only after talking to the local residents and taking them into confidence had he remained as the Chief Minister.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.