Jaitapur nuclear protests: key activists switch sides

Minister Narayan Rane announces protesters have withdrawn agitation and accepted compensation; peoples' groups say protests will intensify

 
By Akshay Deshmane
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Two key activists opposing the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) in Maharashtra's Konkan region recently switched sides to favour the ambitious project. They are said to have submitted a letter to the state industry minister expressing support for the project. Instead of dampening the spirit of protesters, the incident seems to have galvanised the resistance movement. At a press conference and a public meeting in Mumbai on Monday, members of several project affected peoples’ groups took vow to oppose the project strongly.

“Some individual members of Janahit Seva Samiti and others have met industry minister Shri Narayan Rane today and submitted a letter saying they are willing to accept the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. We wish to clarify unequivocally that Janahit Seva Samiti is not party to this decision,” read an official statement issued by the Samiti. It further clarified: “the people of Madban, Jaitapur and Sakhari Nate and other project-affected villages and organisations were not involved nor consulted by the concerned individuals regarding this development at any point.”

On Friday, Maharashtra industries minister and strongman from  Konkan region announced that those opposing the project have withdrawn their protest after compensation package for land acquisition was hiked by the government. Curiously, Madban resident and old time leader of the anti-JNPP movement, Pravin Gavankar, announced his support for the project. He was supported by a few others, who were also not in favour of the project initially.

However, members of five other Konkan-based organisations disassociated themselves from him and others, calling it an individual decision. Members of several organisations, like Janhit Seva Samiti, Konkan Bachao Samiti, Maharashtra Macchimar Kruti Samiti, Yusuf Meherally Centre, and Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, have clarified that their opposition to the project is based on “scientific and technical grounds” and not because of any dispute over compensation.

At the public meeting and press conference on Monday, Shyamsundar Narvekar, a member of the Janhit Seva Samiti, said the recent defection has only made those against the project more determined to oppose it. He said while farmers continue their opposition, fishers from Sakhri-Nate village are even more vociferous about their opposition to the project. “And yet, if the government tries to go ahead with the project, there will be bloodshed,” he warns.

Mumbai-based Bhikaji Waghdhare, who owns farmland in Madban village, said people will move court. “We will approach the courts and fight legally against the government’s imposition of the project on locals,” he said.

 

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