Organizations, stakeholders laud government’s decision
Numaligarh: It has been more than a month since massive protests and dharna by various organizations and stakeholders across the State were witnessed against the alleged conspiracy of privatization of Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL).
In a statement on Wednesday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) located in Golaghat would not be privatized but remain under government control. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday took many important decisions regarding the strategic disinvestment of five Central Public Sector Undertakings, including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL). But the statement also stated that the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) would be carved out from BPCL disinvestment.
Recently media reports created sensation and nationwide protests erupted over the Central Government’s move of handing over Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) to private player and the consequent private investment in Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) wherein BPCL is the largest shareholder having 61.65 per cent share in the refinery. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also sent a letter to the Central Government over the issue stating that if BPCL was privatized, NRL would go into the hands of private companies.
But after the statement from the Union Finance Minister on Wednesday, social organizations, employee-worker unions and other stakeholders have welcomed the Union Government’s decision. A huge gathering was witnessed in front of the main entrance of NRL on Thursday. Employees, workers, people from various organizations and unions gathered there and expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Modi, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and also Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for listening to the voice of the masses and for taking the decision in interest of the people of the State.
Numaligarh Refinery Employees’ Union (NREU) secretary Binud Gogoi said, “We are really happy and want to thank the Union Government, Prime Minister, the Union Finance Minister and also Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. We would also like to thank all the media persons, including print and digital, for their help.”
Numaligarh Refinery Oil Tanker Association spokesperson Priyangdeep Kakaoty said, “We welcome the government’s decision on NRL. Our association first raised the issue and demonstrated against the disinvestment/ privatization row of BPCL and NRL. We also thank all the organizations and people of the State who raised their voice and carried the whole protest to an extensive level for saving the NRL. Finally, the sacrifice of 855 martyrs acknowledged.”
Morangi AASU general secretary Prachurjya Duwarah said, “We think that the government has finally listened and understood the language of protest. The protest led by All Assam Students’ Union, with help of other organizations and people of Assam, has successfully reached its goal and NRL is now saved. We would like to thank each and everybody for their help and cooperation throughout the protests in the last months. We would also like to request the government to refrain from taking such decisions of privatizing the NRL.”
President of Morangi AASU, David Thengal said, “The picture is still not crystal clear yet. We want a firm decision and commitment from the government that the sale or privatization of NRL will not be brought up in future also. Moreover, the marketing and sales of the NRL products is still handled by BPCL. After the privatization of the latter, who will look after it? The government must come with a prompt decision about the future management and marketing/ sales issues of NRL.”
Various other social organizations have also welcomed the government’s decision for retaining the PSU status of NRL. However, there are also demands that the works for the expansion project of the refinery should be started immediately without any delay.