Former chief justices of the Delhi and Madras high courts, AP Shah and K Sampat, will conduct an independent public hearing on the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri district by the month-end.
The panel of retired judges will travel to the plant site at Madban and hold a people’s tribunal to hear the views of project-affected people.
“The panel will conduct a hearing and prepare a report, which will be submitted to the state government,” said Vaishali Patil of the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalpa Vidrohi Samiti. “Besides the locals, anyone can depose before the panel either in favour or against the project at Madban. For those who can’t make it personally, will have an opportunity to express their stand via mail,” she said on Wednesday.
The tribunal will also issue notices to the police, land acquisition officer, collector and ministers.
“Even though it is a voluntary exercise, it will give the government officials to put forth their views,” added Patil.
While the panel was to visit Madban this weekend, the arrest of 14 locals in a two-month-old alleged rioting case led to a change in plans. “With so many villagers arrested, it was decided that it would not be the best time to hold a public hearing,” said Satyajit Chavan, a social activist. Activists and residents are also open to a dialogue with the government provided they withdraw cases against villagers, get policemen out of the villages and stop whatever little work such as soil testing had begun at the plant site.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace India has described the arrests of 14 villagers as autocratic and anti-people. “There is a range of concerns raised on the Jaitapur project. The government needs to answer these concerns and not clamp down on the protestors, just because it has powers to do so,” said Karuna Raina, nuclear and energy campaigner, Greenpeace.