Maharashtra's Nanar a flashpoint between Sena, BJP

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. (PTI photo)

The Rs 3 lakh crore Nanar super refinary project in Rajapur tehsil of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra remains a flashpoint of the two ruling saffon allies, the BJP and the Shiv Sena. 

When the pre-poll alliance was sealed between the two allies, the Shiv Sena had put the condition of scrapping the project. After the meeting of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the announcement of scrapping of project was made.

The cold war is clearly seen if one follows what has happened in Kankavli in Sindhudurg over the last few days. On Tuesday, when members of veteran politican Narayan Rane-founded Maharashtra Sawabhiman Paksha joined the BJP in presence Fadnavis, the latter gave a push to the developnent agenda, and said that Konkan will be transformed into tourism-highway.  "We now have a double engine in Konkan," he said praising Rane, a Rajya Sabha member who had been brought in to placate Shiv Sena influence in Konkan.

A day later, Uddhav went to Kankavli and said if the BJP would have chosen a better candidate he would have addressed a rally. In Kankavli, Rane's son Nitesh Rane of the BJP is pitted against a former family aide of 25 years, Satish Sawant, who had been given AB form by the Sena. 

"We will not allow Nanar project to come," Uddhav has said in wake of Fadnavis's comments during "mahajanadesh yatra' that people want the project. 

Groups like Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti and Konkan Refinary Virodhi Sangharsh Sangathana are opposed to the project. "The Nanar project is a poll issue in Konkan region," says veteran journalist and Konkan region analyst Rajan Chavan.

"We are not opposed to development. But development needs to have a human face and it should suit the needs of the people and the environment, not anything that pollutes the air and destory agriculture, fishing," says activist Satyajit Chavan, who spearheads the anti-Nanar project movement. "A section of businessmen want the project to be revived and not local villagers," he said. 

The Nanar project involved an Indian consortium consisting Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) that signed an MoU with Saudi Arabian oil company Saudi Aramco for setting up India's largest refinery and petroleum complex. The Rs 3 lakh crore refinery would have been the largest single location refinery complex in the world with a capacity of 60 million tonne.

In May 2017, the government had issued a notification to acquire 5,932 hectares of land across 14 villages in Ratnagiri and two villages in Sindhudurg. Several Gram Panchayants in the proposed project area had passed resolutions that they do not want the project. During the Lok Sabha polls, the project was scrapped but now if the BJP gets a bigger strength they may revive it.

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