The Bombay high court directed the collector of Ratnagiri on Tuesday to allow the non-governmental organisation (NGO), Indian Peoples’ Tribunal, to conduct a public hearing of the grievances of locals against the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant.
The power plant is an outcome of the September 2008 Indo-French agreement. The plant across five villages — Madban, Niweli, Mithgawane, Varilvada and Karel — will generate 10,000 megawatt of power. But a section of the scientist community and the locals have raised objections citing environmental and safety concerns and farmers have not accepted compensation for their land acquired for the project.
The NGO works on access to justice for marginalised people.
On Tuesday, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi said the collector should let the organisation conduct an ‘Open House’ hearing from September 17 to 19 at Meethgavhan in Ratnagiri district.
There is, however, a rider: the NGO has been restrained from using the word “tribunal” in its banners or posters, since the word has an aura of a quasi-judicial authority.
In March, the NGO had filed an application before the collector, seeking permission for the hearing. The plea was rejected on the ground that the hearing might create a law and order problem.
The NGO then moved high court, which directed the authorities to reconsider the plea.
The collector rejected it again on August 17, citing various reasons including the forthcoming Navratri festival.
The state government’s arguments, however, failed to convince the court.