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Petroleum Ministry’s Konkan refinery plan faces opposition from activists

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 16, 2016

People from all walks of life joined the protest march against Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in large numbers last year VIVEK BENDRE

NGOs opposed to Jaitapur nuclear project now spearhead fight against refinery



The Petroleum Ministry’s plan to set up a coastal refinery in the Konkan region of Maharashtra could be jeopardised with activists opposing the project.

The same activists have been opposing the Jaitapur nuclear project in the coastal district of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.

The most active among the NGOs opposing the Jaitapur project, Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, which stands for the Committee for Opposing Destructive Projects in Konkan, is now spearheading the move to oppose the refinery. 

Continuing protest

The Ministry, along with BPCL, HPCL and IOC, is planning a 60-million-tonnes capacity refinery at Tavsal village, which is 100 km away from Jaitapur.  

For the last eight years, activists, along with local residents, have successfully thwarted the plans of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) of setting up a 10,000-MW nuclear plant, which is expected to cost over ₹1 lakh-crore.

At Tavsal, HPCL had tried to acquire land in 2012 for a much smaller refinery, but faced stiff resistance from locals. Later the company had to shift the project to Barmer, Rajasthan.   

Satyajit Chavan, Convenor, Committee for Opposing Destructive Projects in Konkan, told BusinessLine that the refinery project will have a devastating effect on the local ecosystem. The effluents from the refinery will kill the local marine life. It will have a huge impact on the fisheries-dependent local community. A series of meetings have been held with the locals in Tavsal and they have been opposing the refinery vehemently. More protest meetings would be soon held, he said.

Chavan said the Committee is not opposed to industrialisation. Automobile, forgings, and other industrial projects do not have a heavy environmental footprint; such projects are welcome, but a not refinery, he said. For many decades automobiles projects have been cornered by Western Maharashtra, why can’t automobile projects be set up in Konkan, he asked. A resident of Tavsal, Ajay Parab, said people want their area to progress but the pollution from the refinery will destroy the air and water quality in the region. Just like Jaitapur residents, people from Tavsal will oppose the project, he said. 

Impact of pollution

Environmental activist Girish Raut said the first impact of the refinery will be on the intertidal zone — a critical interface between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Rising pollution in the zone can destroy the whole marine ecosystem, he said.

Globally, refineries have been facing major resistance from local populations. Last week in Washington, the US, environmentalists targeted two refineries, which are among the top sources of greenhouse-gas emissions in Washington state. In Myanmar, civil society groups have started opposing Chinese-led $3-billion refinery project in the southern city of Dawei.

Published on May 16, 2016
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