The fishermen of Wadhwan and 12 other villages, on Saturday, stopped a team from surveying the area to apparently gauge the feasibility of developing a port at Wadhwan.
After the locals heard that the Centre is preparing a plan to develop new ports at Wadhwan, Vijaydurg and Revas in close participation with the state, the locals and others from the neighbouring villages stopped the private team, accompanied by the Dahanu tehsildar and a few police officials, from carrying out their survey for a few hours. The protestors also gave a memorandum to the representatives of the survey firm against the construction of a port there.
The Wadhwan port was cancelled in 1997-98 following protests by the locals, but the Centre has now given the green signal to construct the a Rs30,000-crore port in the area to decongest the JNPT port at New Mumbai and Mazgaon port. Nitin Gadkari, the Union minister for ports had recently stated that each new port would handle 40 million tonnes of cargo annually and around Rs30,000 crore would be spent on each port.
Narayan Patil, who is leading the protest said, “In 1998, the port project was shelved by the then Sena-BJP government due to public outrage but now the Centre has gone ahead with constructing the new port at Wadhwan. We will continue to protest against the project.”
He added, “Developing a port will damage Dahanu’s environment. In 1998, the Dahanu Taluka Environmental Protection Authority (DTEPA), a-15 member committee appointed by the Supreme Court, had opposed the proposal of developing a port after it surveyed the site.”
Meanwhile, Anil Diggikar, chairman of JNPT had said last week that a Mumbai firm would be conducting the survey for the proposed port and the report of its feasibility and other aspects would be submitted to the state and to the environment department for clearance. “We will take the locals into confidence the locals and no injustice would be done to them,” said Diggikar. “Also we will try to give maximum employment opportunities to the locals, as per Project Affected People (PAP) rules if their land is acquired for the project,” he added. Diggikar also said that if the port is constructed, the state would contribute 26% of the expenditure while the rest would be paid by the Centre.