Rejecting the hefty compensation being offered, farmers from Jaitapur want the state government to scrap the 9,900MW nuclear power plant project for which their land has been acquired.
Scrapping the project would give the farmers a chance to reclaim their land, though the government rules do not provide for any such reversal. Farmers hope to find a legal way to resolve the issue once the project gets scrapped.
Adwait Pedanekar, from Konkan Bachao Samiti said, “The government is trying to lure us into giving our lands by promising more money. They need to understand that we don’t want the project. No farmer will accept the money. We will move court to get our land back once the project is scrapped.”
Pedanekar said the committee plans to make the farmers aware of the issue and hold more agitations.
Around 938 hectares in five villages — Madban, Karel, Mithgawane, Niweli and Ansure — have been acquired legally for the project. The law does not provide the option of resistance by farmers if the land is to be used for national interest. While 600 hectares would be used to build the station, the remaining would be used to house staff utilities.
Based on the state government’s recommendation, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), the promoter of the project, has agreed to pay Rs. 22.5 lakh for a hectare to the affected farmers.
In the last three years, the farmers have staged several agitations against the project, including the one in which a local was killed in police firing. Locals fear that the radiation would affect their health, biodiversity and marine ecology, which has been their livelihood.
Activist Pravin Gavankar said that the government should reconsider the project taking their concerns into account.
“It is a question of life and death. They must learn from the nuclear disaster in Japan,” he said.
RR Kakde, spokesperson, NPCIL, said, “We would like to carry them [the villagers] along for the benefit of Maharashtra. Fifty per cent of the power generated at the plant would be provided to the state.”
Kakde said the company was open to the state government’s decision on the amount to be paid for the land.
“The total compensation would be meagre in comparison with the cost of the project. We have already paid more money for the land at Haryana,” he said.