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2nd Foundation Stone Laying? PM Modi Inaugurates Commencement Of Barmer Refinery In Rajasthan

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| January 16 , 2018 , 14:34 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday arrived in Rajasthan and inaugurated the commencement of work of an oil refinery in the Barmer district, the first one in the state, which is expected to be completed by 2021.

The Barmer oil refinery is a 9 million tonne capacity project worth over Rs 43,000 crore in a proposed joint venture between Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and the Rajasthan government, and is expected to provide immense job opportunities in the state.

Despite the benefits the refinery promises, its inauguration on Tuesday has been marred by controversy with the Congress accusing the BJP of "re-laying" the foundation stone for the refinery for which the foundation stone was already laid during the Congress government in Rajasthan in 2013.

In 2013, when Congress leader Ashok Gehlot was the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, a joint venture for the Barmer refinery project was signed between the state government and HPCL in March 2013 at an estimated cost of Rs 37,210. The foundation stone for the project was laid by then Congress party president Sonia Gandhi on September 22, 2013.

However, soon after the BJP came into power in December 2013, the project was delayed, with the BJP claiming that they were seeking a higher stake for the state government than the proposed 26 for the government and 74 percent for HPCL.

In a series of tweets, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot slammed the BJP for 're-laying' the foundation stone of the project that was inaugurated by senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi.

"BJP has been spreading negative propaganda and misconceptions about the Rajasthan refinery right from the beginning. BJP should know that unless all formalities related to the project were complete, Smt Sonia Gandhi ji would never have accepted the invitation of laying foundation & inauguration," tweeted Gehlot.

"State's public and youth were not deceived by us but by the BJP govt that stalled all of Congress' important projects, including the Refinery, The CM should tender an apology to the public for this," he said. 

"As a result of 4 yr delay, thousands of our youngsters were deprived of job opportunities, caused huge revenue loss to the govt, delayed thousands associated small industries connected to the Petro-Chemical complex & job creation. Who's responsible for this loss?" Gehlot questioned.

"CM kept trying to mislead people of state by repeatedly questioning state's share 26% in this project with claims that when land is ours, oil is ours and water is ours, then why only 26%? I ask her why state share in Refinery has not been increased from 26% in new MOU?" Gehlot asked. 

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan defended the delay in a statement last week.

"The earlier internal rate of return (IRR) from the project was at 6 percent with a viability gap support of Rs 3,736 crore per year from the state government for a 15-year-period. The IRR from the project is now 12 percent with just Rs 1,123 crore per year viability gap support from the state government. The lower viability gap support and higher rate of return will lead to a saving of Rs 40,000 crore to Rajasthan," said Pradhan.