Maharashtra government officials have said that the multi-crore Nanar Refinery project which was proposed to be set up in Ratnagiri, with participation from Saudi Arabia and UAE, has not been scrapped but will be relocated elsewhere. They claimed that only the land acquisition notification on Ratnagiri would be withdrawn and the government has already started looking out for alternative land for the refinery project.
“We are looking at Sindhudurg and areas near Thane district. There are other sites as well. We hope to finalise it by next month,” a state government official said.
The task may not be easy as the state needs 14,000 acres for the refinery project and locals in Sindhudurg are already up in arms over their land being acquired for a number of projects.
In fact, Maharashtra would face a tough task in acquiring land for the refinery project not just in Sindhudurg but elsewhere also, as this is a touchy subject and every land acquisition project undergoes endless hurdles as people are unwilling to part with their land. The Maharashtra government had faced huge challenges while acquiring land for its prized Mumbai Nagpur 8 lane expressway. Similarly, the state is struggling to acquire land for the Mumbai to Gujarat bullet train project as many villagers are unwilling to give up their land for the project.
The Maharashtra government officials claimed that the state was readying what they called “one of the biggest” compensation packages ever announced by the state for the locals to part with their land for the refinery project. The state’s BJP government, which has been pushing for the project claiming that it was vital for the country’s ‘national and energy security’, had however backtracked after its ally Shiv Sena decided to back the locals in stalling the project. The first signs of trouble were seen when the state decided to appoint a committee in September last year to talk to the aggrieved villagers. In November, as the BJP was coaxing the Sena to join the party for the Lok Sabha polls, the state government announced that it had agreed to stop the land acquisition process for the project.
On Monday, the government finally said that it will not go ahead with the project at Ratnagiri but will relocate it elsewhere.