MUMBAI: Maharashtra Swabhiman Party (MSP) President Narayan Rane on Friday accused the Shiv Sena of threatening farmers and leaders opposing the upcoming mega-refinery project at Nanar in Konkan.
"Despite strong opposition from the local villages, the state government has initiated forcible land acquisition process for the project. An activist, Ashok Walam, his wife Ashwini Walam and another crusader Mangesh Chavan were threatened in Matoshri," Rane told media persons.
The MSP chief claimed that in Matoshri -- the residence of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray -- these activists and villagers were warned against opposing the project and even lured with money to back off, but they refused.
"The police arrested them and filed cases for opposing the project and finally they were granted bail by the court. The people who are trying to grab the villagers' land are agents of Shiv Sena," said Rane, whose party is part of the ruling NDA.
He said people of at least 16 villages in Nanar area have not given their consent for the project and have refused to accept the government's compensation package.
The former Chief Minister, who hails from the picturesque coastal Konkan region of Maharashtra, listed the major environmental hazards if the government pushes ahead with the project, besides destroying the world-renowned Devgad Alphonso mango unique to this region.
"The Shiv Sena is playing a dual role in the matter. On one hand, Uddhav Thackeray says the party is opposed to the project, but its ministers in the state and the Centre are giving various clearances for it.
"Why haven't Union Minister for Heavy Industries Anant Geete and state Industries Minister Subhash Desai stopped it," Rane asked.
Even Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is on record that the project was being taken in Konkan at the insistence of the Shiv Sena, which is the ruling NDA's ally at the Centre as well as in the state.
The mega-refinery project of the three Oil Marketing Companies -- Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, with 50 per cent share, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd -- both with 25 per cent share each, is known as West Coast Refinery & Petrochemical Project (WCRPP), planned in Babulwadi, Ratnagiri district.
With a total capacity of 60 million tonnes per annum, it will be constructed on around 14,000 acres land in two phases -- 40 mtpa and 20 mtpa -- at a cost of around Rs 1.5 trillion, with possibility of a foreign collaborator.
The project is intended to cater to the growing demand for Indian petrochemical products in the world market.
Incidentally, this is the second major project that the people of Konkan are strongly opposing -- the other being the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project.
The JNPP is billed as the world's biggest, coming up on 950 hectares of land with French collaboration near Madhban village in Ratnagiri, at a cost of Rs 1.12 trillion.