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STATE IGNORES CENTRE’S WARNINGS ON THREAT TO BPCL REFINERY

bpcl-2The Bharat Petroleum refinery in Mahul, Chembur, is back in the news. The Union ministry for petroleum and natural gas said that the state had ignored the Centre’s warnings about allowing high-rises near the refinery. This comes at a time when home minister RR Patil has directed top police officers not to allow any commercial or public activities near oil and gas refineries, which can be potential terror targets. At a home ministry meeting last week, the police were told to deploy additional force to guard IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum, and Hindustan Petroleum refineries. The matter was raised in the parliament where it was asked the Centre if it was a fact that central intelligence agencies had told the state that the high-rise near the BPCL refinery could pose a security threat. The construction of a multi-storeyed building near the refinery in Mahul is perceived as a serious threat from undesirable/anti-social elements who could use them as observation/launching posts to sabotage/damage not only the refinery but also other sensitive oil installations such as storage tanks, oil and gas pipelines near the refinery. Officials from the Slum Rehabilitation Authority in Mumbai, however, said they had no information from central intelligence agencies when the project was approved in October 2006. Bharat Petroleum had filed a petition in the Bombay high court in October 2009 objecting to a 13-storey building planned right beside its refinery. The BMC told the high court that there were no such threats and nothing would happen in Mumbai.

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