Fact Check

Barmer Oil Refinery: An Examination of the ‘Re-launching’ Controversy


On January 16, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in a ceremony to mark the commencement of work at the Barmer oil refinery in Rajasthan. This is not only the first oil refinery in Rajasthan but it will also bring immense benefits to the state which has large oil and gas reserves.

However, the Congress appeared to create a controversy over the PM’s programme by accusing him and the Rajasthan government of “relaunching a project” which was “already launched by Congress 4 years ago”. Below is former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot’s tweet, which was retweeted by Congress’s Salman Anees Soz:

Several other Congress leaders and members had made the same allegation. Below is one example:

If we look at the National Herald article plugged by Mr Gehlot, it begins by claiming the following:

Below is what the Deccan Herald published and tweeted:

Now, what exactly was the PM doing in Barmer? From the evidence in the public domain, and as reported widely in the media, he was launching the commencement of work at the Barmer refinery. Below are some news reports:

If one is not mistaken, surely there is a difference between a foundation stone-laying ceremony and a work commencement ceremony? By that logic then, the Congress’s claim that the PM was merely “relaunching” a project “already launched” does not ring true.

It appears then whether the foundation stone was re-laid or not is rather irrelevant. Oil was discovered in Barmer in 2004, almost 14 years ago. If the Congress had laid the foundation stone four years ago, what had stopped it from getting the project up and running even earlier, since it had been in power in the state since end-2008? Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan appeared to raise this precise question too:

A further question that may be asked in this context is whether there is a difference between having a project on paper and actually beginning the project on the ground. The former is what a foundation stone-laying ceremony largely tends to be about. Where then was the “project” that the Congress alleged was being “re-launched”?

Since the Congress has alleged that its successor in the state delayed the project, how does that square with the fact that it is under that same successor that the project has now commenced? That certainly did not happen when the Congress was in power in the state.