After seven years of deadlock, which was threatening to completely derail the Jaitapur nuclear power project, the state government has finally made a major breakthrough by winning over a key section of the protesters.
The local villagers were opposing the 9,900 megawatt plant citing environmental damage to mango orchards and fishing, as well as the threat of radiation leaks.
On Friday, industries minister Narayan Rane met representatives of Janhit Seva Samiti, a local body which was spearheading the agitation, who have agreed not to oppose the project.
“The representatives told me there will be no more protests, and they are ready to come on board. They have given me a written representation with 25 points, which will be discussed with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan within the next fortnight,” Rane said while talking to Hindustan Times from Ratnagiri.
The wall of dissent has been brought down with the help of the state government’s revised compensation — the project affected will now get Rs22.5 lakh per hectare instead of the earlier compensation of Rs1 lakh to Rs4.5 lakh.
Pravin Gavankar, who had been leading the Samiti, said after the meeting: “We have decided to not fight with the state any more, and the villagers will be arriving at mutually agreeable terms with the government for rehabilitation. I have been ill and can no longer fight this agitation. The masses are with me on this decision,” said.
Rane clarified since the land acquisition process started years ago, the new land acquisition bill will not be applicable to this project. “We will start the process for villages that have agreed to come on board on September 2,” the industries minister said.
He also took potshots at the Shiv Sena, which has been supporting the villagers’ protest.
“Now it has become clear that Sena’s opposition was a political ploy to further its interests in the coal power industry. They had nothing to do with the interest of the villagers,” Rane said.
However, other groups, including the Konkan Bachao Samiti, said they will still stick to their stand of opposing the plant, and are not with the Janhit Seva Samiti.