BHUBANESWAR: Even as the BJD on Friday claimed that former chief minister Biju Patnaik had initiated the move for establishment of an oil refinery in Odisha, former chief minister and senior BJP leader Giridhar Gamang gave a new twist to the entire discourse by claiming that had he not taken interest in the project, it would have been shifted elsewhere.
“A race has started among political parties to take credit for the oil refinery at Paradip,” the former chief minister said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and added, “Had I not personally involved myself as the then chief minister of Odisha, the project would have been shifted to some other place.”
The project was approved by the Centre in 1992 and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) was selected as the joint partner in 1995. From 1996 to January,1999, the then chief minister JB Patnaik selected the site for joint venture project at Paradip but the land acquisition process had not been taken up due to a dispute, he said.
Gamang said as the joint venture with KPC did not get through, the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) decided to set up the project on its own in 1999 after he as the then chief minister met the union petroleum minister.
Gamang discussed with land losers and chairman of IOCL and finalised the compensation on the basis of an agreement between the two parties. The land acquisition process started after this amicable settlement.
The former chief minister said the project was put off for two years from 2002 to 2004 after Odisha Government withdrew incentives. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh gave the final approval to the project in principle in 2006 with revised estimates, he said.
The Centre approved the final investment revised cost in 2009. The project was delayed for nine years because of the State Government’s dithering in taking a decision, he said.
Meanwhile, the BJD on Friday released a letter written by the then chief minister Biju Patnaik to former prime minister VP Singh on July 19, 1990 about establishment of steel plant, oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Odisha.
Patnaik had a meeting with Singh on July 11, 1990 in which other ministers and secretaries were also present. “I apprised you of my discussions with the concerned Soviet ministers and their willingness to participate in the oil refinery project,” Patnaik had said in the letter.
“It was stated that IOCL had prepared a project report for an oil refinery in Orissa and was ready to implement it if priority was given by Planning Commission and Petroleum Ministry,” he said.
Patnaik wrote to the then petroleum minister Shankaranand on October 21, 1991 about the project and followed it up with several other ministers.