RATNAGIRI: Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said the proposed oil refinery at Barsu in coastal Ratnagiri district should be moved to Gujarat, and ”good” projects from the neighbouring state be brought to Maharashtra. Interacting with villagers at Barsu, Thackeray also dared the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government to face the protesters and support the project, even as BJP-Shiv Sena leaders took out a march in nearby Rajapur town in support of the refinery.
“The bulk drugs park, Vedanta-Foxconn and Tata-Airbus projets are gone (to Gujarat)….take this (refinery) project to Gujarat and bring our good projects to Maharashtra. Whatever is non-controversial is for Gujarat, and what is controversial is imposed on Konkan and Maharashtra,” Thackeray said.
कोकणाने संघटनेला नेहमीच धुरंधर कार्यकर्त्यांची फौज दिली आहे. अशाच महाडमधील स्नेहल माणिक जगताप आणि हनुमंत (नानासाहेब) जगताप यांनी त्यांच्या कार्यकर्त्यांसह आज पक्षप्रमुख उद्धवसाहेब ठाकरे यांच्या उपस्थितीत शिवबंधन बांधून पक्षात जाहीर प्रवेश केला! pic.twitter.com/Tseau1OlTb
— ShivSena – शिवसेना Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray (@ShivSenaUBT_) May 6, 2023
He conceded that as chief minister he had recommended (to the Union government) Barsu as an alternative site for the refinery instead of Nanar in the same district where locals had put up stiff opposition.
But he had not recommended that the project should come up at Barsu even at the cost of ”breaking the heads of protesters” or pauperising the local population, Thackeray said.
Later, at a press conference, Thackeray said, “I had given a letter (recomending Barsu) through some understanding or misunderstanding. That was not my final consent.” Questions remain unanswered about the kind of jobs local people will get and whether they would be permanent jobs, he said. Countering Thackeray, Union minister and BJP leader Narayan Rane said in Mumbai that the Shiv Sena opposed every major project proposed in the coastal Konkan region, may it be the Enron power project, Jaitapur nuclear power plant, acquisition of land for a highway and even an airport. “He (Thackeray) has no role to play in the development of Konkan,” said Rane, a former Shiv Sena leader who hails from Sindhudurg district adjoining Rajapur taluka.
Thackeray never visited farmers affected by unseasonal rains, but travelled to oppose the project, he said.
More than Rs 2 lakh crore will be spent on the project, thousands of jobs will be created and schools, colleges and hospital will be built as part of it, Rane said. Rane’s sons Nitesh who is a BJP MLA and former MP Nilesh Rane took out a march in support of the refinery in Rajapur.
Nilesh Rane said Thackeray had backed the project when he was chief minister, but now he is opposing it as he is in opposition. Thackeray, meanwhile, also averred that he will not let any development project that hurts the interests of people to come up. “If you try to impose dictatorship then we will dismantle it and drive them (the BJP) out,” he said. He had the honesty to face protesters, Thackeray said, demanding that the government hold a dialogue with locals before proceeding with the refinery project.
A section of local people is opposing the Barsu refinery on the grounds that it will harm the fragile biodiversity of Konkan and also hit their livelihood. Thackeray said when he was chief minister, similar protests had taken place against the Mumbai-Nagpur `Samruddhi’ highway. “But we had a dialogue with protesters. We worked out a way without hampering development,” he said.
Taking a swipe at Prime minister Narendra Modi, Thackeray said he had come to Barsu to listen to ‘Jan ki Baat’ and not to do a ‘Maan ki Baat’. Earlier, Thackeray had planned to hold a rally in the Barsu-Solgaon area, but was denied permission. Narayan Rane said he cancelled his own Barsu tour as Thackeray was denied permission to hold the rally. Thackeray also visited an ancient rock-art site in Barsu and said during his tenure as chief minister, he had written to the Centre that it be declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Protests broke out at Barsu, more than 400 km south of Mumbai, after soil testing for the refinery project began last month.
Uday Samant, Maharashtra industries minister, had alleged that misunderstanding was being deliberately created by the opposition about the project.
Of 5,000 acres of land needed for the refinery, owners of 2,900 acres have already given consent letters for acquisition, he claimed. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had said last month that the project will not be implemented without the local people’s consent.
Source: Press Trust of India