Indian far-right regional party Shiv Sena will not allow under any circumstances the newly announced Saudi Aramco-Indian project for a US$44-billion mega refinery and petrochemical complex in the Maharashtra state to be completed, the party’s leader Uddhav Thackeray said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Saudi oil giant Aramco signed an agreement to build the refinery on India’s West Coast. The refinery will be able to refine 1.2 million barrels per day, and goes a long way towards satisfying both India’s and Saudi Arabia’s interests. The project will be one of the world’s largest refining and petrochemical facilities, Aramco says.
However, Shiv Sena—which is a partner in India’s state government—fiercely opposes the project, citing environmental concerns as their primary reason for the opposition.
Shiv Sena’s leader Thackeray said on Thursday that the agreement for the complex is “cheating the people of Maharashtra” and criticized Maharashtra state’s Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for allowing the project in the area.
“The Chief Minister had promised that this project will not be imposed upon people. However, that is what has happened. This is cheating. It indicates that the chief minister’s word is not valued by the Centre,” Thackeray said in a statement, as carried by The Economic Times.
The refinery and petrochemical complex will destroy mango and bamboo cultivations and large swaths of forest, according to Thackeray.
Shiv Sena will continue to oppose the project because it will not benefit the region of Konkan, he said.
India’s Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has expressed hope that the opposition to the refinery plan could soon end, according to India Today.
The project would ensure favorable crude oil supplies for India and partly help it to achieve its goal to increase its refinery capacity by 77 percent to 8.8 million barrels per day by 2030.
Saudi Arabia—which was India’s largest crude oil supplier before Iraq ousted it from that spot—has been looking to regain its position as top crude supplier to the thirsty Asian nation, and has been investing in other Asian refineries abroad in an attempt to lock in as much demand as it can.