Farmers and villagers today demanded scrapping of a mega refinery proposed in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, saying the project will destroy the rich flora and fauna in the coastal area and adversely affect the health of its residents. The petroleum ministry plans to set up the refinery at Rajapur in Ratnagiri district of the region, about 400km from Mumbai. It is to be called West Coast Refinery. To execute the project, the state government, on May 18, 2017, declared nearly 16,000 acres of land around the project site as an industrial zone under the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Act. Farmers and other members of the society are opposing the project under the banner of Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti (Committee for Opposing Destructive Projects in Konkan). Addressing a press conference here, Samiti convenor Satyajeet Chavan said the project will affect 16 villages and pose health risks to their residents as it will cause pollution and release hazardous gases. "Residents of these villages are totally against the project, which will cause colossal damage to the natural beauty and environment of the entire region," he said. Chavan said the project should be scrapped taking into account the potential damage it will cause. On September 9, scores of farmers, fishermen and orchard owners took out a morcha in Rajapur demanding scrapping of the venture. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has called a meeting of various representatives on September 12 to discuss the project-related issues. Chavan said he hopes Fadnavis, after the meeting, would announce setting up of a special team to ascertain the impact of the project. Farmer and local resident Ashok Walam said the project has been envisaged without undertaking survey and eliciting the opinion of the villagers. "We are going to fight tooth and nail against the project.
If needed, I will stage a sit-in before the state government headquarters (Mantralaya)," he said.
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