BHUBANESWAR: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's claim that establishment of oil refinery at Paradip was one of the major achievements of his government, former union minister and chairman of the manifesto committee of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Srikant Jena described it as an 'untruth' and maintained that the project was completed during the UPA regime.
Stating that the oil refinery was a major contribution to Odisha by the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh, the former union minister said the decision to set up the refinery at Paradip was taken in 1992 by the Congress government headed by Narsimha Rao as a joint venture between Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and Kuwait Oil Corporation.
The United government headed by HD Deve Gowda took the decision in 1996-97 that the oil refinery will be of nine million tonne capacity after which the Congress government in Odisha led by JB Patnaik decided in 1997-98 to extend all incentives to the project. A meeting presided over by Patnaik was held in the state secretariat to decide the location and start land acquisition. The then petroleum minister TR Balu and Jena, who was also a union minister then, were present at the meeting.
Jena said the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation stone for the project in 2000 but the Centre declared the project as unviable in 2002 following which the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha withdrew sales tax and all other incentives. The project was revived in 2004 by the UPA government and the state government signed agreement on incentives.
The former union minister said the IOCL board upgraded the project to 15 million tonne capacity in 2006 following which the Manmohan Singh government fixed the project cost at Rs 35000 crore in 2009 and started work. He said the project to be completed by 2012-13, was delayed by two years due to the non-cooperation of the state government.
Besides, the UPA government had also decided in 2010 for establishment of the Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR) at Paradip. The decision to establish the PCPIR has opened employment opportunities for more than two lakh youths in Odisha, Jena said and added that the Centre had also decided in 2012-13 to set up a plastics park project at Paradip.