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Maharashtra puts land purchase for Saudi Aramco's $44-bn refinery on hold

The $44 billion refinery was seen as a game changer for both parties - offering India steady fuel supplies and meeting Saudi Arabia's need to secure regular buyers for its oil

Reuters  |  Mumbai 

Saudi Aramco

has put on hold the process to buy land for the country's biggest oil refinery that state-run oil are building with Saudi Aramco, Devendra Fadnavis said, after strong opposition from farmers.

The $44 billion refinery was seen as a game changer for both parties - offering India steady fuel supplies and meeting Saudi Arabia's need to secure regular buyers for its oil.

But thousands of farmers are refusing to surrender land, fearing it could damage a region famed for its Alphonso mangoes, vast cashew plantations and fishing hamlets that boast bountiful catches of seafood.

"The entire (land acquisition) process has been stayed. We haven't acquired any land," Fadnavis told state assembly on Wednesday as opposition parties and a coalition partner were opposing the refinery.

The & Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPL), which is running the project, says the 1.2 million barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery, and an integrated petrochemical site with a capacity of 18 million tonnes per year, will help create direct and indirect employment for up to 150,000 people, with jobs that pay better than agriculture or fishing.

RRPL, a joint venture between (IOC), and Bharat Petroleum, has said suggestions the refinery would damage the environment were baseless.

Issues related to the land for the refinery will be sorted out by the state government soon given the importance of the project, RRPL Chief Executive officer B. Ashok told Reuters.

Land acquisition has always been a contentious issue in rural India, where a majority of the population depends on farming for their livelihood.

In 2008, for example, had to shelve plans for a car factory in Singur, West Bengal after facing widespread protests from farmers.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 29 2018. 17:30 IST
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