The Rs. 1,000-billion Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra is stuck because of land acquisition issues which the developers have not been able to sort out despite offering the project-affected people a whopping Rs. 22.5 lakh per hectare.
The agreement for the plant was signed between a French nuclear engineering company and the NPCIL on December 6, 2010. But the ambitious project, slated to come up in Madban village of Ratnagiri district, remains stalled following opposition by the Shiv Sena, local farmers, fishermen, NGOs and environmental activists.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, announcing a fresh agitation in early June, said the land was forcibly acquired. “In Konkan (where Jaitapur is situated), people have voted against the ruling parties because they are against the Jaitapur project. Now, people’s wishes must be respected,” he added.
During his meeting with Union minister Nitin Gadkari last week, state revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat demanded that the land acquisition regulations be fine-tuned. The government fears the development projects could turn unfeasible as the land acquisition cost may go up manifold.
Apart from the land issue, the people are against Jaitapur over the environmental and safety concerns that a nuclear energy plant breeds. They obviously don’t want a repeat of the Fukushima tragedy in this coastal region.
Earlier, the land acquisition amount was fixed at Rs. 14.77 crore as per the Act. But the NPCIL has now earmarked an additional Rs. 211 crore as ex gratia. A total of 938 hectares — 692 hectares for the plant site and 246 hectares for the residential complex — has been acquired for the project. The state government claimed to have acquired about 80% of the project land.
Another ambitious project, the Navi Mumbai International Airport, is held back as some villages have not yet agreed to the state’s offer.