The State Legislative Assembly and the Council were both adjourned for the day on Thursday as Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena members protested against the proposed West Coast Oil Refinery project in Ratnagiri district of the Konkan region. While the Assembly was adjourned four times for 10-15 minutes before being adjourned for the day, the Council was adjourned a couple of times. On Wednesday, the state Assembly was adjourned following a scuffle between the Congress and the Shiv Sena MLAs over the refinery. The project is being opposed by local residents as well as the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), as they claim it would damage the ecology of the area.
On Thursday, as the House assembled, Leader of Opposition at the Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, mooted the adjournment motion demanding a thorough discussion on the refinery. He demanded that all other businesses listed on the day’s agenda be set aside and priority be given to debate on the project. He also demanded that the government announce scrapping of the project, else the Opposition will not allow the House to function.
Shiv Sena attacked the Congress alleging double standards. Shiv Sena MLA Sunil Prabhu said: “Vikhe-Patil had missed our protest against the project as a stunt. Now, the Congress needs to clarify whether it is for or against the project.” Some Congress members then said Vikhe-Patil had not even named the Shiv Sena.
Amid the din, Speaker Haribhau Bagde adjourned the House for 10 minutes. When the House re-assembled, NCP’s Bhaskar Jadhav said: “The nuclear power project in Jaitapur is (scheduled to come up) just 1,200 metres away from the refinery, and this is like inviting a disaster. There will be development and job creation only if we and our future generations are alive.”
Soon after, Shiv Sena members trooped into the well of the House and started shouting slogans, demanding scrapping of the refinery project. The Congress and NCP members also joined in. The Speaker adjourned the House till the end of Question Hour. Later, the House was adjourned two more times before being adjourned for the day.
In the State Legislative Council, NCP’s Sunil Tatkare moved a similar resolution pressing for a debate on the project. Opposition MLCs also raised the Dhule incident in which five persons were killed earlier this month and demanded that the government takes necessary steps to prevent such incidents. They also demanded immediate release of Rs 5 lakh compensation announced by the government. But soon, the refinery issue came up again.
As NCP and Congress members continued to raise slogans, the Chairman adjourned the proceedings for 15 minutes. Later, the Council was adjourned.
Earlier, this week, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said in the Council: “The West Coast Refinery project is being taken up to bring development and growth in Konkan region. The advanced technology would ensure environmental concerns were adequately addressed.”
Asked about Shiv Sena’s stand on the project, a party source said: “Party chief Uddhav Thackeray is not against any development project. The Sena is voicing its protest because villagers in Konkan are worried that the refinery would affect their lives and livelihood.”