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Refinery issue: Opposition flags contradictory reply of Sena

Opposition parties sought to corner Maharashtra Industries Minister Subhash Desai of Shiv Sena in the Legislative Assembly over his “contradictory” reply on upcoming Nanar refinery project in the Konkan region.

In its reply to a starred question dated March 1 on the proposed mega refinery and petrochemical complex in Rajapur taluka, the Industries department stated that there was no opposition to the project by locals.

The starred question was not read out on Monday as the Assembly was adjourned due to noisy scenes over the revocation of suspension of BJP-backed Independent MLC Prashant Paricharak.

Before the House was adjourned for the day on Monday, Desai made a statement saying the land acquisition for the project was tough as locals are opposing the refinery, touted as the flagship project of the Narendra Modi government.

After the starred questions of March 1 were tabled in the House after Question Hour, Bhaskar Jadhav (NCP) raised a point of procedure.

“If starred questions are tabled on Tuesday as per rules, then why was industries minister Subhash Desai was allowed to give a clarification on one of these questions,” he asked.

Speaker Haribhau Bagde said he would check with the legislature secretariat about tabling of starred questions.

“As a minister, Desai can make a statement under Rule 57. The starred questions of March 1 could not be tabled on Monday as the House was adjourned for the day due to noisy scenes,” he said.

Desai was not present in the House when the Opposition members raised the issue.

Speaking on the issue, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “though question hour was not called on March 1, the news reports about the question on the Nanar refinery project, which was listed as the second question, were published. So the minister is justified in making a clarification”.

Prithviraj Chavan (Congress) said the written answer on feasibility of the project was in “absolute contradiction” with what the minister said.

Jayant Patil (NCP) wondered whether the ministers statement on the floor of House was made with an intention to control the political damage caused by the response to the starred question on the issue.

“Whether the written reply on March 1, in which the minister says there is no opposition to the project by locals should be taken as correct answer or shall we say that his clarification is aimed at controlling the political damage (since Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had opposed the project),” Patil said.

Desai had on Monday said nine Gram Panchayats in the area have passed resolutions opposing the proposed project, and people from 14 villages are opposing the process of survey for land acquisition, making the acquisition difficult.

In the proposed 1.45 lakh crore west coast refinery, which will be the biggest in the country, the Indian Oil Corporation will have 50% stake, while Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) will have a stake of 25% each.

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