The Centre’s move to privatise the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has triggered massive outrage in Assam. The Numaligarh Refinery located at Morangi in Golaghat district of Assam is a refinery owned by Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), a joint venture between BPCL (61.65%), Oil India (26%) and Assam government (12.35%).
The NRL was set up in accordance with the provisions made in the historic Assam Accord signed on August 15th, 1985. The people of Assam are emotionally attached to it and boast about it. The present authorized capital of the company is Rs 1000 crore and paid-up capital is Rs 735.63 crore.
Demanding rollback of the decision, the protesters across the state vented their ire by burning the effigies of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The protesters also raised anti-BJP slogans and said that they would not allow the BPCL subsidiary’s privatization.
The protesters claimed the Centre’s move would make a lot of locals jobless. The decision of the Centre raised many eyebrows as the company is doing well. The Numaligarh Refinery Employees’ Union has now sought the intervention of the Assam parliamentarians to prevent the privatization of the BPCL.
Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved a project to expand the capacity of the NRL from 3 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) to 9 MMTPA. The project will take four years to complete and will meet the rising demands for petroleum products in the Northeast.
The NRL holds sentimental values for the people of Assam. It is also one of the few prospering public sector undertaking (PSU) in the region.
Though Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal Sonowal said that the state government hasn’t yet received any communiqué from the Centre over the matter, the disinvestment plan could adversely affect the region and also the expansion plan.
Photo credit: www.nrl.co.in