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Blockade threat for Orissa refinery

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 2: The Opposition in Orissa has called for an economic blockade against the Centre if it does not revive the proposal for Indian Oil Corporation’s refinery at Paradip, which has been shelved.

Senior Opposition leader and the president of the Orissa Gana Parishad, Bijoy Mahapatra, said that unless the state starts a non-cooperation movement against the Centre in all economic matters, the central government would not agree to it.

“Once we start doing that, then everyone would come back to their senses. Orissa can very well manage its own resources and does not have to depend on the Centre for its day-to-day survival. We should stop paying any taxes to the Centre,” he said.

In August, IOC announced that the company would not be able to start the 9-million-tonne-per-annum mega refinery project following sharp increase in project cost and surplus demand-supply situation for petroleum products in the country now.

The company noted that the project would not be economically viable. If Paradip has to work, then other IOC refineries would have to run below capacity, an IOC official had said.

In July 2000, IOC had announced the setting up of the refinery at Abhaychandrapur near Paradip, with an estimated outlay of Rs 8,270 crore. Facing delay in implementation right from the beginning, the estimated completion cost, as per an ICICI review, bloated up to Rs 12,400 crore by October 2001. The company has spent Rs 583.61 crore on the project up to March 2003.

Mahapatra said IOC cannot backtrack after preparing a viability report. “This is not a gift from the Centre. It’s our right,” he said, adding that both IOC and the chief minister have taken the people for a ride. “The CM has been lying about the project for last three years, though he knew about its status.”

On Friday, Congress legislator Suresh Kumar Routray threatened in the Assembly that no central minister would be allowed to land in Bhubaneswar if the project was not started within two months. Another Congress member, Santosh Singh Saluja, and Independent member Nalinikanta Mahanty proposed that all MLAs should resign if the refinery did not come up at Paradip.

Even senior Biju Janata Dal leader and panchayatiraj minister Damodar Rout has called the IOC decision a conspiracy against Orissa.

Another member, Ramakrushna Patnaik, suggested that a delegation led by Speaker Sarat Kar should meet the Prime Minister and the petroleum minister on the issue. If the demand is rejected, a statewide agitation should be launched, he said.

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