In a move that will further push the Rs 3 lakh crore Ratnagiri refinery and petrochemical project into cold storage, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government has denotified the 19,146-hectare land reserved in Raigad district by the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led government for the mega oil refinery. Sources said the land is now being ‘renotified’ for setting up an integrated pharmaceutical city in Raigad.
The Shiv Sena has been averse to the oil refinery project coming up in Konkan. The facility, which was to come up at Nanar, was cleared by the Centre and state government in December 2015, and was to pass through land spread across 17 villages in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts. It was to come up as a 50:50 joint venture between Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Limited (RRPCL) — its investors were Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum — and a partnership between the Saudi-owned Aramco and UAE’s National Oil Company.
The government had initiated the process of land survey when it was shelved suddenly before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 over “environmental concerns” expressed by the Sena. The Sena, in fact, had made it a condition of its pre-poll alliance with the BJP ahead of the elections.
In January 2019 the then government had notified 19,146 hectares of land in Raigad as an integrated industrial cluster. In September 2019 the then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis once again said the state government was keen on building Asia’s biggest and first green oil refinery in Konkan. Fadnavis, in a written reply to a starred question in the Legislative Assembly in June 2019, had mentioned about shifting the oil refinery project to Raigad stating that “there was no opposition from the locals to the land acquisition.” Fadnavis had further said The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) was developing an Integrated Industrial Cluster (IIC) at 40 villages in Alibaug, Murud, Roha and Shrivardhan tehsils of Raigad.
Maharashtra Industries Minister Subhash Desai confirmed to The Indian Express that the entire 19,146-hectare land has been denotified by the government and 1,652 hectares in the 16 villages in Roha and Murud tehsils in Raigad were renotified by his department as an industrial area on October 8. This was the same land where Fadnavis planned to build the refinery. “The land is now being notified as an industrial area for industrial projects. A pharmaceutical park will come up in this industrial area,” Desai said.
When asked what would happen to the refinery, Desai said the project was not a priority for the state government.
Government officials said 2,000 hectares of land is required for setting up the pharmaceutical city, which would be referred by the Centre as Bulk Drugs Park as part of making India Atma Nirbhar, and more land in Raigad would be renotified soon. The Centre is going to approve three such parks across the country and the state is hoping to get an approval for its proposal, said an official.
An MIDC official said the infrastructure cost of the pharmaceutical city is Rs 2,500 crore and the minimum investment expected is Rs 30,000 crore. “If the Centre approves the state government’s Bulk Drugs Park proposal, then it will provide Rs 1,000 crore as infrastructure cost and the remaining cost will be borne by the state government,” explained the official. He added that the pharmaceutical city would be completely environment friendly. While 800 acres is government land, locals have given consent for acquisition of 700 acres. The MIDC plans to complete the land acquisition process in the next two-three months.
The Bulk Drugs Park will produce basic raw materials such as Bulk Drugs (Key Starting Materials (KSMs)/ Drug Intermediates (DIs) and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs)) that are used to produce essential medicines. It will boost domestic manufacturing of 53 bulk drugs, for which the country is critically dependent on imports.
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