Public protest against the 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power plant has taken a dramatic turn as about 70 elected representatives in the project-affected villages have resigned en masse from the local self-government.
On Monday, gram panchayat members of 10 villages that have been notified for the project tendered their resignations to the authorities concerned.
Resignations came a day before chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s public meeting on the project at Mumbai’s Yeshwantrao Chavan Centre at 4 pm.
Chavan will meet nuclear scientists, representatives of all political parties but he will not get to know of the views of project-affected people. Last week, 2,500 local students boycotted schools for two consecutive days as a mark of protest.
The resignations of the sarpanch, deputy sarpanch and members will virtually end the panchayat raj (administrative system) in the 10 villages.
“We have sent the CM a letter explaining to him why we will skip the event at Mumbai. We want that discussion to be held in a conducive atmosphere,” protest leader, Pravin Gawankar, told the HT.
Activists demanded in a letter to CM that the project promoters must put certain things like tariff of power produced and other scientific information in public domain or else forget about the project.
“We will not travel to Mumbai because the government has filed fake police cases against us. Prohibitory orders are still in place. Also, the state is adamant on having the project without giving us a proper hearing,” Gawankar said.
Activist Adwait Pedanekar said the protestors have a conditional approach to the CM’s initiative.
“Chavan must create a conducive atmosphere by withdrawing all police cases and he must also say in public that the state is ready to reconsider the project.”
Pedanekar reiterated the demand that the land acquired forcibly be returned to the farmers. The plant will need 968 hectares in five villages of the coastal Ratnagiri district.
Gawankar said locals will regroup at the annual festival — Bhagwatichi yatra (religious congregation of Goddess Bhagwati) in Madban village on Wednesday and Thursday.