GUWAHATI, Nov 15 - Asserting that Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) must retain its Central PSU status, the All Assam Students� Union (AASU) on Friday deplored the �weak role� of the Assam government in safeguarding the refinery, a product of the Assam Accord of 1985.
In a statement, AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath said there was no reason why the profit-making NRL should be handed over to a private party as was being planned by the Centre.
�This can never be acceptable to the people of Assam and NRL must remain a Central PSU. If there is a need for disinvestment of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), which holds majority of the shares of NRL, arrangements should be made to ensure that NRL shares are either taken over by the Government of India or distributed among the other stakeholders including the Assam government and Oil India Limited (OIL),� Nath said. The student body asserted that it would continue with its ongoing stir against the Centre�s move to privatise NRL.
�We also deplore the weak role of the Assam government in the strongest terms. The state government must take up the issue strongly with the Centre immediately to safeguard the interests of NRL and consequently Assam,� it added.
Pointing out that NRL has been making profit and a majority of officers and employees of the refinery are from Assam, the AASU questioned the rationale behind the move to privatise NRL at a time when a mega expansion plan of the refinery was on the anvil.
While BPCL holds 61.65 per cent shares of NRL, OIL has 26 per cent and the Assam government has 12.35 per cent of shares.
Nath said NRL�s profit-making status is evident as it 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 the last three years while earning a profit of Rs 3,000 crore. NRL is set to embark on a Rs 22,000-crore expansion plan to increase its capacity to refine 9 million tonnes of crude along with a bio-refinery project. Any attempt at privatising the refinery at this point will be preposterous,� he said.