Politics seems to have hit a Rs.37,230 crore ($6 billion) 9 mmtpa (million metric tonnes per annum) petrochemical complex in Rajasthan that was estimated to generate some 100,000 direct and indirect jobs, with former chief minister Ashok Gehlot of the Congress accusing his successor, Vasundhara Raje of the BJP, of "unnecessarily" stalling the project.
"It seems that the chief minister has some vested interest; that is why she is not keen on setting up the refinery (in Barmer)," Gehlot told IANS in an exclusive interview.
"The refinery-cum-petrochemical complex is a big project that would not only give economic benefits to the state but will also provide employment to thousands of youth. By delaying its construction, the state government is crushing the interests of the state," Gehlot added.
The complex was to be established by HPCL-Rajasthan Refinery Ltd. (HRRL) - a joint venture company of HPCL and the Rajasthan government.
"We had given consultancy work to SBI Caps for the project. However, the present government has asked a private company to review the project. After giving crores of rupees to this company, the state government is trying to come out with a fabricated report to mislead by saying that the previous regime's proposal was not favourable for the state," Gehlot said.
Noting that HPCL is a central government enterprise with Navratna status, Gehlot said: Still, the state government is misleading the people by repeatedly saying that the share agreed to by the Congress government will lead to losses since the land, water and oil belong to the state."
"The fact is that the state government will fully recover the amount for land and water from the project. The state government will get a one-time return of Rs.200 crore in lieu of the land to be given for the project," he added.
Gehlot's government had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with HPCL for establishing the complex in Barmer district at an estimated cost of over RS 37,230 crores in March 2013. A JV agreement was signed in July 2013 between HPCL and the state government.
The proposed refinery was to be a subsidiary of HPCL, whose equity share was to be 74 percent, while 26 percent was to be held by the state government.
As per the terms and conditions, every year, an interest-free loan of Rs 3,736 crore was to be provided by the state government to the JV for 15 years from the time commercial production commenced at the refinery. This has now become a sticky point, said sources in the know of developments relating to the project.
Gehlot also castigated the Raje government on the law and order situation. "Since this government came into power, dacoities, murders and thefts have increased," he said.
He also flayed the BJP government on farmers' deaths.
"It is unfortunate that farmers are committing suicide every day. In a state like Rajasthan, where farmers' did not take such extreme step even in the worst of times like drought, at least 50 farmers have been compelled to take their own lives."
"I do not want to politicise the issue, but I feel there is a complete inaction on the part of the government both at the centre and in the state," Gehlot said.