Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut admitted on Wednesday that Uddhav Thackeray, as the chief minister of Maharashtra, had suggested an alternative site at Barsu in coastal Ratnagiri district for a refinery project, but if locals oppose it then his party will back them.
Talking to reporters, Raut hit back at Industries minister Uday Samant and said instead of “flaunting” the letter written by Thackeray to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting Barsu as an alternative site, he should visit the site and talk to protesters.
Samant on Tuesday alleged “misunderstandings” were being deliberately created about the project for political mileage and slammed the “politics of double standards”, an apparent jibe at Uddhav Thackeray and his MLA-son Aaditya Thackeray, who handled the environment portfolio in the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government (November 2019 to June 2022).
“Nanar (site) was opposed by locals and then he (Thackeray) suggested that Barsu could be an alternative place. It is scrubland and that is right. But if locals oppose it, then Shiv Sena (UBT) will not back the project.
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This is our political stand,” Raut said. “As chief minister, he (Thackeray) suggested an alternative land. At that time there must have been no opposition (in Barsu). But now people are opposing this. If they (locals) are of the opinion that they will die but won’t give their land, then the letter (by Thackeray to Modi) counts no value to us.”
Why big-ticket projects went out of Maharashtra, Raut asked Samant. On Tuesday, the Ratnagiri police arrested 111 people, most of them women, during a protest against the proposed petroleum refinery, an official said.
More than 100 women were among the protesters who tried to block a road in Barsu and Solgaon areas of the district, around 400km from Mumbai, by lying on the ground to stop government vehicles from entering the proposed site of the refinery. The Shiv Sena (UBT) on Tuesday also decided to launch an agitation against the proposed oil refinery at Barsu amid the protests. Local residents fear the mega project will adversely affect the fragile biodiversity of the coastal Konkan region and also hit their livelihood.