A little more than a month after violent protests led to stoppage of work at Madban, the site of the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri, work to build the boundary wall and soil testing resumed earlier this week.
“Work on constructing the boundary wall and soil testing has begun amidst tight security,” said Ranjit Kakde, general manager, corporate communications, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.
However, locals claim that they won’t let the work go on for long.
On April 18, villagers led by Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Salvi stormed into the site where fencing work was in progress.
Around 300 locals burnt machinery, electronic material and dry grass on the plateau following which the police resorted to lathicharge.
Subsequently, violent protests broke out in the neighbouring fishing village of Sakhri Nate where Tabrez Sayekar, 30, was killed in police firing.
“After the incident, contractors and workers refused to continue work,” said an NPCIL official. “This was the second time that work had stopped.”
This time, locals have again resolved to stop work, albeit peacefully. “We have seen machines and trucks going up the plateau and can hear sounds too,” said Pravin Gavankar, a Madban resident. “We won't allow them to carry on for too long. But unlike last month's protests, we will not resort to violence this time since villagers suffered as well.”
Gavankar said while locals would take support from political parties such as the Shiv Sena, the Republican Party of India and the Communist Party of India, they would not let their members lead the protest. “Locals will decide on how they want to protest and stop work,” he said.
Meanwhile, to dispel fears and myths about the plant, the state-run company has opened an information centre in Ratnagiri. “We have hired a hall and all documents, along with the model for the plant, have been sent across. Anyone can get their doubts cleared at this centre,” said Kakde.