Congress to back locals opposing Nanar refinery: Chavan

Rajapur, May 2 (PTI) Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Ashok Chavan today pledged his partys support to the locals opposing the Nanar refinery project in coastal Konkan, saying development cannot be achieved by destroying peoples farms and homes.

Addressing a rally at Katradevi Sagve village in Rajapur taluka in support of locals opposing the proposed mega refinery, Chavan said the BJP-led government wants to forcibly acquire farmers land.

"This is worse than the British era," he said.

Chavan, a former chief minister, said his party will oppose the project and will be in solidarity with the locals. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had assured a delegation of locals opposing the Nanar refinery that the party will back them, he said.

He ridiculed Shiv Sena for its stand on Nanar project, saying that party was humiliated publicly but still continues to share power with BJP.

"Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis says Industries Minister Subhash Desai has no right to withdraw the land acquisition notification. Shiv Senas situation is so miserable," Chavan said.

"It takes ten minutes to withdraw the notification. Desai declared withdrawal of the notification ten days ago, but that has not happened so far," Chavan said.

The Congress MP from Nanded claimed that people close to the ruling party have turned middlemen to acquire land and sell it off to Gujaratis.

"The BJP-led government wants to destroy Konkan but the local people will destroy this government," Chavan said.

Later talking to reporters, Chavan said around 17,000 acre land is being acquired without locals permission. "The land covers mango, cashew and coconut plantation. Around 80 per cent locals are opposing the project and we will stand by them. There is a threat to the regions environment," he said.

Chavans rally comes days after Shiv Sena"s meeting at Nanar and last weeks meeting between Rahul Gandhi and a delegation of villagers opposed to the project.

Chavan, All India Congress Committee general secretary and state in-charge Mohan Prakash and leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil met people from 16 villages in Ratnagiri who have objected to the refinery.

Rahul Gandhi is also likely to visit the area after the Karnataka assembly polls, Congress sources said.

Last month, Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia, signed a pact with a consortium of Indian oil companies to jointly develop and build a mega integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex called Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Limited at Nanar. PTI MR VT VT