Ambani wants answers after refinery clashes

Vol 19, PW 2 (24 Sep 15) People & Policy

Fifty-thousand angry workers on a rampage through a giant refinery, smashing and destroying with sticks, iron rods and stones, igniting fires using diesel jerry cans, police responding with teargas and bullets.

No, it’s not a scene from a Hollywood apocalypse movie. This was the scene at Reliance’s 1.24m b/d Jamnagar refinery where rioting broke out on September 17.

As expected Reliance boss Mukesh Ambani is on the warpath, demanding answers. Ambani, we hear, has asked group president (corporate affairs) Parimal Nathwani to carry out a detailed inquiry into the causes of the riot, which saw the angry mob damage over 500 vehicles including cranes, trucks, lorries, cars, vans and tractors and also burning another 119 vehicles to ashes.

The mob also tried to snatch the revolver of a police sub-inspector. The seriousness of the situation can be gauged from the fact that over 100,000 people work round the clock on an $11bn upgrade making the Jamnagar refinery the largest construction site in the world.

Three conflicting reports have emerged about the cause of the violence – all traced to the death of a worker. Reliance’s official story is he died of a heart attack.

Yet rumours say he was found hanged in labour colony-8 near Kanalus village. Other reports say he fell off a truck and was crushed under the wheels.