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Congress to protest against proposed privatisation of NRL

Press Trust of India  |  Guwahati 

The opposition Congress on Wednesday will hold a dharna at Numaligarh in Golaghat district of Assam to protest against proposed privatisation of the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), the largest refinery of in the North Eastern region.

The Union Government is looking to sell its entire holding in oil major Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), which holds the majority stake in the NRL.

"The dharna will be organised at Numaligarh Tiniali on NH-37 tomorrow at 11 am to protest against the autocratic decision of the (Narendra) Modi government to sell the nation's treasures to private parties," state Congress Spokesperson Rhituparna Konwar said on Tuesday.

Numaligarh Tiniali is a tri-junction located near the refinery.

The Centre's plan to sell its stake in the NRL is anti-Assam and anti-people, he alleged.

"NRL is an outcome of the Assam Agitation in which 855 youths sacrificed their lives. Giving it to private hands is an insult to the Assamese people," Konwar said.

The NRL was set up in accordance with the provisions made in the Assam Accord of 1985 and has been conceived as a vehicle for speedy industrial and economic development of the North Eastern region.

Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, the party's state president Ripun Bora, MPs, MLAs and other senior leaders will take part in the demonstration, Konwar said.

The Congress leader also warned of a massive agitation if the proposal to dilute the government's stake in NRL is not withdrawn immediately.

On October 14, the Assam government had said the NRL will be privatised if the Centre sells its stake in the BPCL.

BPCL has a 61.65-per cent stake in Numaligarh Refinery, while Oil India and the Assam government have 26 per cent and 12.35 per cent holding, respectively.

The Centre is planning to sell its 53.29 per cent stake in BPCL to a strategic investor in the biggest privatisation bid in the history of India.

Following the reports of the Centre's move to sell its entire shareholding in BPCL, protests have erupted in and around Numaligarh in Golaghat district, where the NRL refinery is located, fearing privatisation of the Assam-based company.

In order to clarify the ongoing situation regarding privatisation of BPCL, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal sent a letter to the Union Government.

The All Assam Students' Union and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti have held a series of protests against the proposal.

Earlier this month, Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi had also opposed the privatisation bid of the NRL claiming that its privatisation will not be acceptable to the people due to their emotional attachment to the 'Accord refinery', as the NRL is popularly known, and its immense contribution to the society and the state.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 29 2019. 18:20 IST