Refinery prakalp, yei Kokanat ho, kara virodh virodh, kara virodha.(The refinery project that’s arriving in Konkan, let’s oppose, let’s oppose.)
This was the festive chant ringing door-to-door across villages in the Rajapur taluka of Ratnagiri district during the Ganpati festival this September.
Each year, people from the district, working in Mumbai, make their way homeward to Rajapur during the festive season. This year, the celebrations were flavoured with opposition to the proposed oil refinery, set to be the world’s largest single-location refinery complex.
Many of the young people who had come home, together with the local residents, coordinated protests against the refinery. Each hamlet and wadi in the Rajapur taluka stood united, hoisting opposition banners and chanting protest slogans, alongside bhajans(devotional songs) throughout the five-day religious festival.
A total of 11 villages are set to be affected by the project. Among these are Barasu, Solgaon, Goval, Devache Gothane, Shivane Khurd, Sogamwadi, Rautwadi, and others that are located around the Arjuna river in the Rajarpur taluka.
With a total investment of Rs. three lakh crore (Rs. three trillion), the refinery complex will be spread across 15,000 acres. Once built, it is projected to process 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day, translating to around 60 million metric tonnes per annum.
Date: 17 Nov 2022
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Coming together under the banner of the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, an opposition committee, Rajapur taluka’s residents have raised several concerns over the project, one of which they claim is that this is a highly polluting ‘red category’ project which the government claims is ‘green’.
Apart from health-related issues caused by the project, villagers are concerned that the polluting gases can harm the mango cultivation in the region which witnesses an annual turnover of Rs 2,200 crore (Rs. 22 billion) for the district. They also claim that the project will be a threat to the 30,000-year-old prehistoric geoglyphs, which are art or motifs on stones, gravel, earth and other elements of the landscape.
Geoglyphs have been first recorded across the district in 2015 by naturalist Sudhir Risbud and his team from the Ratnagiri-based NGO Nisargyatri Sanstha. Since then, the team has found a cluster of geoglyphs of over 40 at a single site. They continued exploring and preserving these geoglyphs, discovering over 1,000 spread across the region. Over the years, these geoglyphs, some of them measuring over 30 feet tall, attract thousands of tourists from around the world.