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Imagenation

Unwelcome Overture
RRPL’s refinery could well shape up only on paper given the opposition from landowners

Land acquisition has been the bane of most mega projects in India. And despite the amendment of land acquisition laws, the hurdles exist as witnessed by protesting villagers in Gujarat and Maharashtra against the bullet train project or the farmer protests against Gujarat Power Corporation’s proposed brown coal plant at Ghogha taluka in Bhavnagar. The latest casualty is the proposed Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals’ (RRPL) project which is witnessing protests from landowners across 14 villages. RPPL is a consortium comprising Indian players such as IOC, HPCL and BPCL along with Saudi Aramco.

In April, a MoU confirming the consortium was signed at the International Energy Forum in Delhi, pushing ahead plans for a $44 billion refinery despite the earlier protests in 2017. This has led to increased anger against the state government as the villagers believe the refinery is going to harm their mango and cashew plantations as well as their fishing culture.

The protests have flamed up and a Nanar Refinery Virodhi Sangharsha Samiti has been set up to oppose the land acquisition. Opposition parties like Congress, NCP and MNS have taken advantage of the situation by extending support to the villagers and Shiv Sena, which has an alliance with the BJP is also supporting the protesters. As per a Reuters report, the land acquisition will not take place before the 2019 elections, according to officials. The plant was supposed to begin operations by 2022, and that does not seem likely anymore.

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