Land acquisition process for the proposed nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri has hit a roadblock with villagers refusing to accept compensation cheques.
On Tuesday, as the second round of land acquisitions began, 87 villagers from Niweli village in Ratnagiri’s Jaitapur taluka did not accept the compensation from the state government for their land.
The Ratnagiri plant is the country’s first proposed nuclear power plant after the Nuclear Suppliers Group, in September 2008, allowed India to access civilian, non-military nuclear technology and fuel from other countries. The US Congress approved this deal in October 2008.
This is the second time that the villagers have turned down the cheques. The first time was on October 15 when the first batch of compensations for 100 villagers was announced.
The state government now plans ex-parte acquisition of land, which is provided in law. “We don’t know when that process will begin,” said Makarand Deshmukh, a land acquisition officer.
“If the villagers refuse to accept the compensation, the acquisition Act permits the government to take over the land. It's a legal process that does not involve a third party like the NPCIL,” said C B Jain, NPCIL’s project manager.
There is trouble brewing at the village level with villagers coming together as the Jaitapur Janhit Samiti. They plan to file a petition in the Supreme Court in the next 10 days challenging the land acquisition. The Bombay High Court in August dismissed a petition filed against the plant.
Pravin Gavandkar, resident of Manbad village where the proposed power plant will be set up said they are opposed to the plant. “We will not allow any government official to enter the village. After talking to scientists and environmentalists, we have got to know the possible harmful effects of the nuclear plant,” said Gavandkar. “We do not want the plant be moved elsewhere in the country either.”
Major projects like the Reliance special economic zone in Raigad and the Tata Nano plant in Singur have faced opposition in the past over land acquisition.
Of the 938 hectares across five villages in Jaitapur, 700 hectares will house six imported European Pressurised Reactors that will generate 1,650 MW each of electricity. The project is in collaboration with a French company, Areva.