GUWAHATI, Oct 14 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today dashed off a letter to the Centre to clarify about the apprehensions over the possible privatization of Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) in view of the Centre's move to privatize the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).
BPCL, a Government of India PSU, has a stake of 61.65 per cent in NRL.
The Centre's decision to privatize the profit-making BPCL has already triggered widespread protest in Assam as well, besides in the rest of the country. According to sources in the industry, the Centre's disinvestment of BPCL will automatically lead to privatization of its subsidiary NRL.
Sources pointed out that Centre's move was all the more deplorable in the context of Assam because not only was NRL - a product of the historic Assam Accord - performing creditably but it had also been poised for a massive Rs22,000-crore expansion.
"BPCL privatization will definitely put in jeopardy NRL's expansion plans as well as its future. NRL is an entity attached to the people's hearts and it has been running with profit," sources said, adding that instead of transferring its ownership to a privatized BPCL, it can be merged with OIL (which has 26 per cent stake).
While the Centre's decision to privatize the profit-making BPCL has not gone down well with the employees who feel the decision to be unwarranted in view of its commendable performance, such a move had been in the Government's agenda for a long time. Sources also pointed out that the BJP Government's undue haste to disinvest it had been exposed by the fact that the it had quietly repealed the legislation that had nationalized the company, overriding in the process the obligation to seek Parliamentary approval before selling the public sector entity.
Way back in 2003, when the then BJP-led NDA headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was keen on privatizing BPCL as well as HPCL, the Supreme Court had ruled that the companies could be privatized only after Parliament amended the relevant law.