GUWAHATI, Oct 16 - Privatization of Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) is not acceptable and it must remain as a Central public sector undertaking (PSU). If the Government of India has to go for disinvestment of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), which holds majority of the shares of the NRL, steps should be taken to ensure that NRL shares are either taken over by the Government of India or distributed among the other stakeholders including the State Government and the Oil India Limited (OIL). This was the view of the All Assam Students� Union (AASU).
The students� body, which has already launched a movement against the reported move to privatize the NRL, is of the view that the State Government should take the issue up strongly with the Centre to ensure that the NRL remains a Central PSU.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that the NRL was created as per the provisions of the Assam Accord and the people of the State would never accept its privatization. He said that the NRL has been making profit and majority of the officers and employees of the refinery are from the State. At a time when implementation of a mega expansion plan of the refinery is on the cards, its privatization is not acceptable, he added.
It may be mentioned here that the BPCL holds 61.65 percent shares of the NRL, while, the OIL has 26 per cent and the Assam Government has 12.35 per cent of shares.
Bhattacharya said that to maintain the status of Central PSU of NRL, the Government of India can take over some shares of the refinery now held by the BPCL. At the same time, the shares of the Assam Government and the OIL should also be increased, he said.
Giving details of the events leading to the setting up of the NRL, Bhattacharya said that in the Assam Accord, the Government of India agreed to set up a new oil refinery and when the work for the refinery started, there was a demand that its refining capacity should be at least three million tones per annum. There was also a demand that the Assam Government�s share should be at least 26 per cent to maintain control over the project. �The experts had pointed out at that time that the State Government should have increased its share without spending any money by converting the land value and tax to be paid by the refinery in the next few years into shares. But for the reasons best known to it, the Congress Government in the State at that time did not show interest in increasing its share in the NRL,� the AASU chief adviser added.
Bhattacharya said that because of the initiative of the then Managing Director RK Dutta and his team, the refinery was completed before the stipulated time frame, which is very rare in this part of the country because of the communication bottleneck. He said that according to records available, the NRL is a profit making company and paid Rs 13,000 crore to the Central and State Governments as tax and other duties in the last three years. It also paid a dividend of Rs 1,300 crore to the shareholders in last three years while earning a profit of Rs 3,000 crore. A mega Rs 22,000 crore expansion plan of the refinery is on the cards to increase the capacity of the NRL to refine nine million tones of crude along with a bio refinery project and at this juncture, any move to hand over control of the NRL to a private party would not be acceptable, he asserted.