MUMBAI: Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals (RRPCL), which is setting up the ambitious Nanar refinery project, hopes to commence physical work in January 2020 despite protests by the farmers and the Shiv Sena's strong opposition to the world's largest refinery project.
The statement assumes importance as the BJP-run state government had in November ordered a halt on land acquisition for the project, in view of the increasing protest by the locals-- farmers and fishermen, who will be losing their livelihood and the rising support they are getting from the ruling party ally Shiv Sena and other Opposition parties.
The 60-million tonne per annum refinery-cum- petrochemical complex is estimated to cost of Rs 3 trillion, and will come up in over 15,000 acres in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of the Konkan region of Maharashtra.
The project, to come up at Babulwadi village, would be the world's largest green-field refinery-cum-petrochemical complex when commissioned and would require 15,000 acres, which need to be acquired from farmers.
State-owned oil refiners--IndianOil Corporation, the ONGC-owned Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum--jointly own 50 percent in the project, while Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company own the rest of equity.
"The company has already received consent from 30-40 percent of the locals and the work will be completed as per schedule in 2025," RRPCL chief executive B Ashok told reporters on the sidelines of an industry here Saturday.
Nearly 14 villages and 850 families are likely to be affected due to the project.
"We are going ahead with the project and we are in continuous dialogue with the land owners trying to spread awareness about the benefits of the project, which will not just change the face of the industry but also the district, state and the country as a whole," he said.
The Oppostion Congress, NCP and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, and the ruling ally Shiv Sena in the state are supporting the locals who are opposed to the project as they claim that it would damage the fragile ecology.
The entire Konkan belt is ecologically sensitive and is home to one of a large varieties of flora and fauna apart from animal, bird and reptile species and is tagged as one of the most fragile ecological zones in the world.
To spread awareness about the project, the company has also taken some of the villagers to the Panipat Refinery, in Haryana, Ashok said, adding "he is hopeful of starting the ground work on January 1, 2020 and actual work in 2021."
When asked if the company has the support from the state, especially after the state government had last November stayed the land acquisition process for the project, Ashok said, "we have complete support from both the Centre as well as the state."
On the concerns of the protesters that the refinery will create pollution, he said, "nearly 80 percent of the land is barren and we have committed to plant around 1,000 trees in the vicinity of the refinery. It is going to be an integrated project and also create jobs for the locals. If the project does not happen, it will be a big miss for the nation."