The Shiv Sena is readying itself for another round of protests against the Jaitapur nuclear plant in Konkan, a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed an early works agreement with French company Areva to start work on the power reactor plants.
A delegation of MPs will meet the PM sometime next week, where the Sena will protest against the nuclear plant once again. The Sena, which has always been against the nuclear plant coming up in Konkan, is keen to make this the new political stand-off with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after voicing their dissent against the Central government’s land bill.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday reiterated his stand on Jaitapur saying it is a ‘monster’ that needs to be thwarted. “Our stand on Jaitapur is clear; we are with the locals. We will not allow it to come in Konkan. Why don’t they take it to Gujarat instead?” he said.
Local MP Vinayak Raut told Hindustan Times that the interests of people of Konkan are more important than anything else. “We are opposing the plant on the basis of scientific information we have about the harm it will cause to the areas around it. Next week, we will meet PM Modi and hand over our arguments along with the studies that have been done,” Raut said, spelling out their next course of action.
The BJP, however, has already started preparations to firefight the situation with a two-pronged strategy.
It is believed that the BJP will first mollycoddle the Sena. If this strategy does not serve their purpose, they will then hit its ally where it hurts the most. The Sena has been gunning more ministerial berths at the Centre, the final decision on which lies with PM Modi.
Power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule has hinted that for starters chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will meet Uddhav to coax him on supporting Jaitapur, before the issue comes up in the Parliament.
While the Sena maintains its stand on the project, the actual picture in Konkan tells an entirely different story.
The work inside the gated area of the nuclear plant has begun. About 73% of the 2,336 land title holders, who gave up their land for the plant, have already got their compensation. The remaining 27% have agreed for compensation but are yet to get it for reasons such as unclear land titles.
Amjad Borkar, the head of Muslim fishing village Sakhri Nate, which stood in rebellion against the project has joined the BJP, and is looking at an amicable solution to sort the fishing issue.