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Saudi Crown Prince Visit Rings Alarm Bells In Konkan, Refinery Project To Revive

Even as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the conclusion of the G-20 Summit, alarm bells have started ringing in Maharashtra’s Konkan region. The reason was the concern over the logical outcome, which signalled the resumption of the plan to set up a mega oil refinery project on the ‘west coast of India’ which in other words could mean the verdant Konkan region. Though the first steps for developing the $ 50 bn refinery project there were taken in 2015, it has been stalled for mainly political considerations. The obstacle was the then Shiv Sena’s changing stance despite its presence in the government. Now that the major fraction of the Sena is sharing power with the BJP in the state, the double-engine push is expected to accelerate the project once more. Wise after the previous experience, the Centre has agreed to set up a joint task force to help in identifying and channelisng the $ 100 bn investments. Both countries have also decided to establish a monitoring committee for tracking the progress of the project. Due to this development, villagers at the Barsu sight in Ratnagiri district have started voicing their opposition to the project. However, no major political party has as yet come forward to support them.