Bhubaneswar, Apr 1 (PTI) Amidst the tussle between Odisha government and the IOCL over its refinery in Paradip, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today said that he favoured signing of a fresh agreement between the two. Also Read - Cyclone Amphan: Anushka Sharma, Arjun Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Bhumi Pednekar, Others Extend Prayers For Victims

“If Odisha feels that the financial burden on the state should be less, then we are in open mind for a fresh agreement to satisfy both the parties,” Pradhan said at the sidelines of a function here. Also Read - Jagannath Yatra 2019: Know The Significance, Importance, Dates And Rituals About The Holy Festival of Orissa

On the delay in implementation of the refinery, Pradhan claimed that it was the UPA government, and not the current NDA government at the Centre, that was responsible for the delay in implementation of the refinery. Also Read - Congress Will Repeat 2009 Performance in LS Polls: Bhupinder Singh Hooda

Odisha government should be happy that the NDA government enhanced the refinery’s capacity from 9 mt per annum to 15 mt, he said.

A senior state minister, however, threatened to close it down after Pradhan’s offer of a fresh agreement came.

“They (IOCL) are indulging in dacoity in Paradip. They lifted sand near Jatadhar river mouth violating all norms. The National Institute of Oceanography had suggested them to take sand from a place 8 km away from Jatadhar mouth. It will affect coastal environment and shore,” state Excise Minister and Paradip MLA Damodar Rout said.

“People are agitating and they will close the refinery down. There is no question of talking to Pradhan. If he takes another step, I along with the people of Paradip will shut down the project,” Rout told reporters.

Rout said that none of the 1752 farmer families who have lost land to IOCL plant was given job.

Land losers formed ‘Jamihara Krushak Ekta Manch’ and were agitating for being denied job in the refinery, JHKEM advisor Abhaya Sahu said adding that some people from 60 to 70 land losers families were provided with temporary jobs.

Earlier, Odisha government had unilaterally withdrawn a vital clause from the 2004-MoU signed with IOCL. There was a mutual understanding for tax incentive to IOCL for 11 years from the date of commercial production of the refinery. Odisha government scrapped the incentive stating that it would incur huge loss as IOCL delayed implementation of the project.

Besides, the state government had said that IOCL enhanced capacity of the refinery without consulting it.

IOCL then moved Orissa High Court against state government’s move and the HC stayed the government’s tax recovery notice on IOCL.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.