File photo of NRL maingate. Image credit - Wikimedia Commons

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in its meeting on Wednesday decided to keep the PSU tag of the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL).

However, New Delhi decided to offload stakes in Tehri Hydro Development Corporation India Ltd (THDCIL) and North Eastern Electric Power Corp Ltd (NEEPCO), which the government plans to hand over to state-run power generator NTPC Ltd.

Informing about the decisions, union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters in Delhi that the CCEA approved sale of government’s entire 53.29 pc stake along with transfer of management control in the country’s second biggest state owned refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL).

Also read: Assam Cong MPs protest NRL privatisation in Delhi

However, the CCEA removed the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd from its fold, Sitharaman said.

The CCEA also approved sale of the entire government holding of 63.75 per cent in Shipping Corporation of India (SCI).

The CCEA has accorded ‘in-principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment in select Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).

Also read: BPCL-NRL privatization: Assam MP writes letter to Sitharaman

Sources told Northeast Now that the NRL will be handed over to a profit-making PSU.

Now, the BPCL’s shareholding of 61.65 per cent in NRL and the management control will be transferred to a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) operating in the oil and gas sector, said sources.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union finance union minister Nirmala Sitharaman and union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan for keeping aside divestment plan for NRL.

Also read: Sonowal meets Modi & Shah, gets assurance on Naga talks, NRL

“My heartfelt thanks to PM Shri @narendramodi Ji for once again keeping aspirations of Assam at the foremost,” tweeted Sonowal.

“Numaligarh Refinery is our pride and I also thank FM Smt @nsitharamanJi, Shri @dpradhanbjp Ji & the Union Cabinet for retaining it with the Government,” he added.

Nagaon MP and senior Congress leader Pradyut Bordoloi has also welcomed the government’s decision on NRL.

“NRL was an outcome of historic Assam Accord and we objected @nsitharaman selling it to its dearest cronies. Glad she has understood saying #NRL will remain untouched,” Bordoloi tweeted.

It may be mentioned massive protests erupted in Assam fearing that the NRL would go to private player if the BPCL, which has 61.65 per cent stake in the mini ratna company of Assam, is privatised.

NRL is the result of the sacrifices of 855 martyrs of Assam agitation and it was established as per the provisions of the Assam Accord signed in 1985.

The Cabinet also decided for strategic disinvestment of government of India shareholding of 100 per cent in NEEPCO along with transfer of management control to an identified CPSE strategic buyer, namely, NTPC.

Sitaraman said that the resources unlocked by the strategic disinvestment of the CPSEs would be used to finance the social sector and developmental programmes of the government benefiting the public.

The unlocked resources would form part of the budget and the usage would come to scrutiny of the public.

It is expected that the strategic buyer and acquirer may bring in new management, technology, investment for the growth of these companies and may use innovative methods for their development.

The Cabinet also decided for strategic disinvestment of government of India shareholding of 30.8 per cent (out of 54 8 per cent equity presently held by the government of India) of Container Corporation of India Ltd. (Concor) along with transfer of management control to a strategic buyer.

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