Congress conceived IOCL refinery: Harichandan

Bhubaneswar: Cornered in the tug of war between ruling BJD and BJP to take credit for IOCL’s refinery at Paradip ahead of its inauguration, the Congress party woke up on Saturday to claim that the contribution of the two parties towards the development of the port town is zero.

“Whatever development is seen in Paradip today is solely because of Congress. You talk about Paradip Port, Paradip Phosphates Ltd (PPL) or the refinery, all the big ticket projects were conceptualised during the time of Congress,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Prasad Harichandan, said at a press meet here today.

“The BJP and BJD are in the race to claim credit for the big project. But I want to mention here that in 1992, the then chief minister of Odisha late Biju Patnaik had written a letter to Petroleum minister B Shankaranand regarding the project and had requested to take steps to set it up. The decision to establish it in Odisha was taken by the then prime minister Narasimha Rao in 1992,” Harichandan said.

During 1997-98, the Congress government of JB Patnaik had agreed to extend cooperation and provide facilities, including tax concessions for the project, he said.

Criticising both the parties for their anti-development approach, the Congress leader said PPL was established in 1981 when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minster.

“But after disinvestment of PPL, only 19% is left with the Centre,” he stated.

On the other hand, the BJD which has been seeking credit for the project since Modi’s dedication ceremony of the 15-MTPA refinery was scheduled, said the former chief minister Biju Patnaik should be given the credit for this.

“This was the dream project of Biju babu and the foundation stone for the project was laid by former prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. I don’t think anybody else should claim stake,” BJD spokesperson Sashi Bhusan Behera said.

The saffron party, which till yesterday was engaged in a bitter poster war with the ruling BJD, tried to soft-pedal the issue today.

“Our party does not want to take any credit. It is a sheer coincidence that the Union petroleum minister belongs to Odisha. Neither we have never forgotten anybody, nor do we want to give credit to anyone. Development is a continuous process and the dream of the people of Odisha is going to be fulfilled. This is a proud moment for all…Our party is extending gratitude to all for their contribution towards this,” State BJP chief Basant Panda said.