Nayara holds hearing for Vadinar expansion

Vol 23, PW 22 (10 Sep 20) Midstream, Downstream, Renewables

Nayara Energy has finally held a public hearing for the capacity expansion and petrochemicals diversification at its Vadinar refinery in Gujarat.

But its problems are far from over. Nayara held the hearing on August 28 and 29 for the Rs130,000cr ($17.3bn) expansion, after several postponements because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) local chief AB Dhimani hosted the event. Such events usually take place in public halls.

But in deference to the government's Covid-19 health protocols, the Nayara event was held on partially covered open ground within the Nayara township at Vadinar. It also took place in a set of 10 rooms each equipped with two-way communication facilities through closed-circuit cameras and TV monitors.

Jamnagar residents attended the hearing on August 28 while Dwarka residents attended on August 29. In total 300 residents participated in the event, which began with Nayara environment head (Ms) Asmita Patel outlining the proposed refinery expansion from 20 to 46m t/y with an additional 10.75m t/y petrochemical complex.

Most questions related to local employment opportunities on project completion and water pollution, allegedly from effluents from the present refinery. Some activists accuse Nayara of "buying off" several vocal opponents who were planning to raise questions.

But one opponent - local lawyer Dilipsinh Jadeja - filed a case in the Gujarat High Court on August 31, asking for the public hearing to be declared invalid citing lockdown restrictions.