GUWAHATI: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to ensure that the public sector undertaking (PSU) status of Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) is maintained even if the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is disinvested.
The BPCL holds 61.65% share of NRL. The remaining 38.35% share is held by Assam government (12.35%) and Oil India Limited (26%).
The refinery is dear to the Assamese as it is a fruit of the historic Assam Accord of 1985 signed between All Assam Students’ Union and the Central government at the end of the six-year-long bloody anti-immigrants’ agitation.
In a letter to Modi, Sonowal wrote that the people of Assam are very attached to the “Accord refinery” NRL which, with its commitment and contribution to socio-economic development of the state, combined with a track record of continuous growth, is known as the rising star of the east.
He said after the refinery was conceived as a vehicle for speedy industrial and economic development of the region, it was dedicated to the nation by then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on July 9, 1999.
“You may kindly recall that on April 9, 2019, you had ceremoniously laid the foundation stone for expansion of NRL for enhancing its capacity from existing 3 MMTPA to 9 MMTPA at a project cost exceeding Rs.22,000 crore. There are media reports that Government of India proposes to take up disinvestment/privatization of BPCL. The NRL, being a subsidiary of BPCL, on disinvestment/privatization of BPCL, NRL will automatically get privatized,” Sonowal said.
He also said that the media reports on the proposed disinvestment of the BPCL had caused a lot of resentment among people. He said the privatization could also jeopardize the NRL’s proposed expansion.
“Considering that attachment of people of Assam towards NRL and contribution it has been providing to the socio-economic development of the state, I would like to request you to maintain PSU status of NRL even if BPCL is privatised disinvested,” the CM said.
The Congress MPs from Assam on Tuesday staged a protest demonstration in New Delhi on the same issue.