IOCL ready for new agreement on Paradip Refinery project: Dharmendra

Bhubaneswar: Amid the ongoing dispute over VAT dues between the Odisha government and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the oil company is ready to sign a new agreement in the current situation.

“I have written to the Chief Minister of Odisha mentioning that the current government at Centre is not responsible for delay in commissioning of the Paradip Refinery. Without any suffering further losses it is right to settle the matter mutually. The Centre is ready to hold discussions with the State in this regard,” said Dharmendra.

Moreover, the Oil minister has also assured that he will look into employment of Odias in the refinery.

On the other hand, Odisha Cooperation and Excise minister, Damodar Rout issued a stern warning against IOCL saying that the company has duped the people of Odisha and if Dharmendra takes any steps in this regard, the refinery will be shut down.

“There is no need for discussions and if Dharmendra takes any steps in this regard then the refinery will be shut keeping in mind the loot that is going on there. Public is agitated there.” said Damodar.

Reacting to such aggression from Damodar, Odisha BJP’s Bhrugu Bauxipatra said that the refinery is no one’s personal property.

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“He should provide the data on employment that the Odisha government has generated and the BJP is ready to provide data on how much employment the Centre has created in all its institutions in the past three years,” said Buxipatra.

The ruling BJD has raised questions on the employment potential of the project and said that the State government is ready to knock on Supreme Court’s door in this matter.

If IOCL has moved the Orissa High Court, then we can also move the Supreme Court and we are confident that the State government will win the case. There is nothing new in recommending signing of a new agreement. This is what the State government highlighted earlier and the company failed to do so,” said BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb.

Notably, on February 16, 2004, the State government and IOCL had signed a MoU for Paradeep Refinery in which the former had agreed to defer collection VAT on all output from the refinery during the first 11 years of the commencement of the unit. Moreover, the VAT for the concerned period will be treated as loan and IOCL had to start paying VAT from 12th year onwards.

The State government issued notice to IOCL, citing that the refinery owes Rs 1,485 crore for the period beginning with the operationalisation of the refinery in 2015 till December 2016.

However, later the Orissa High Court ordered the Odisha government to keep in abeyance the demand notice that it had issued to Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) to recover pending taxes to the tune of Rs 1,485 cr.