The Konkan oil refinery project is continuing to face opposition from the locals. Members of Shiv Sena have also declared their support for the villagers opposing the project. However, Maharashtra’s Cabinet Minister of Industries and Mining, Subhash Desai, who approved this project is also a Shiv Sena member.
The Konkan refinery is proposed to be developed in two districts — Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. 16,000 acres of land were declared industrial for this purpose, spanning across 16 villages. The Konkan belt has a rich biodiversity with locals dependent on agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods.
While the Shiv Sena remains divided over the refinery, the villagers have found a new supporter in Narayan Rane. Rane recently left Congress to start his own party, Maharashtra Swabhimaan Paksh, and joined the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut accused Rane saying this is a pressure tactic to get BJP to give him a cabinet seat.
Satyajit Chavan, activist and convener of Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti (KVPVS) which is leading the local opposition against the refinery, told Newsclick that all political support is being viewed as vote bank politics. Since BJP has no voter share in the Konkan area, they are not concerned of the locals’ demands, according to the villagers.
“Something or the other is happening everyday against the refinery,” Chavan said. A couple of weeks ago, a dharna was organised outside the Ratnagiri Refinery office in Mumbai. After that, the office issued letters to the protestors to vacate the area for the sake of their own safety.
After the notice was sent for land acquisition by the state government, the locals filed their objections against it in courts according to the acquisition process. Hearings are going on for these objections currently. The acquisition is being done under the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Act of 1961 instead of the Land Acquisition Act of 2013.