ADNOC-backed Indian oil project tainted by allegations of land grabs, oppression and journalist’s murder. An Indian oil refinery project backed by Saudi Aramco and the UAE’s state oil firm Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is giving rise to government oppression of local communities in Maharashtra, India, according to a new investigation by Global Witness.
The investigation uncovers evidence of oppressive tactics being used by authorities and the state-controlled refinery company to shut down community opposition to the project. Locals and activists allege that they were initially kept in the dark about the refinery, with landowners falling victim to unfair land deals that left them short-changed and robbed of their autonomy.
Campaigners against the project reported to Global Witness that they have been criminalised, spied on, forced into hiding, had curfews imposed on them, and banned from certain areas. Many say they have also been slapped with controversial legal orders and forced to bear the financial burden of court costs.
ADNOC-backed Indian oil project tainted by allegations of land grabs, oppression and journalist’s murder
The extent of the community oppression is highlighted in one case from April 2023, when survey work was due to begin at a testing site. Ahead of testing taking place, two local activists were arrested and held without charge for four days, following police surveillance. Hundreds of villagers still went to the site to stop the testing, leading to a clash with police, who threw teargas and hit people with batons. Several women were allegedly left injured by their excessive force, with one female protester reporting that she saw police grabbing women and dragging them across the hard ground.
Over five days, 313 were people arrested and charged with criminal offenses. Campaigners believe that this criminalisation is being used as a way of harassing community members, subjecting them to financial strain and putting their employment at risk.
Rachel Cox, Land and Environmental Defenders Campaign Strategy Lead at Global Witness said:
“The Ratnagiri refinery project shows the complete disregard with which the Indian government hold the rights of people and planet. Hundreds of peaceful protestors silenced, a journalist murdered, and communities who report being robbed of their land and environmental rights – all to fuel the unsustainable profits of those who preach climate action while bankrolling climate destruction.”
Read the full PDF here