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Villagers opposing Vadhavan port block Mum-Ahd highway for 2 hours

Feb 23, 2024 07:10 AM IST

Around 3,000 villagers protested against a proposed port at Vadhavan, causing traffic jams on Mumbai Ahmedabad highway. Police intervened to clear the blockade.

MUMBAI: Around 3,000 villagers opposing the proposed greenfield port at Vadhavan in Palghar district staged a ‘rasta roko’ at Charoti naka on the busy Mumbai Ahmedabad highway on Thursday, leading to traffic snarls all the way up to Bhayandar.

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The protest was organised by around 13 citizen’s groups which met on February 16 and chose February 22 as the date for the road blockade. Accordingly, on Thursday, protestors, a majority of them women, squatted on the road and shouted slogans against the construction of the port from noon till around 2.20pm.

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Traffic on Mumbai Ahmedabad highway was diverted via an alternate route, but vehicles moved slowly, and it took four hours to cover the 25 km stretch between Vasai and Naigaon, said commuters.

“Since the National Highway Authority of India began concretisation work in this stretch about a month ago, it takes two hours to cover the distance. But today, it took more than double the time,” said a commuter.

Police was deployed along the highway to ensure smooth flow of traffic. Personnel from the State Reserve Police Force, quick response teams and riot control police reached spot and persuaded villagers to clear the blockade, said Palghar superintendent of police Balasaheb Patil.

“We have issued notices to 200 people, instructing them not to hold protests. We have also called for more forces from other districts in the Konkan as the highway is a lifeline between Mumbai and Ahmedabad,” he said.

The organisations which organised the protest included Vadhavan Bandar Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti, National Fishworkers Forum, Maharashtra Macchimar Kruti Samiti, Thane Zillha Macchimar Samaj Sangh, Thane Zillha Macchimar Madhyavarti Sahakari Sangh, Bhoomisena, Adivasi Ekta Parishad, Kastakari Sanghatana, Akhil Maharashtra Macchimar Kruti Samiti, Sagar Kanya Manch, Samudra Bachav Manch, Vadhavan Bandar Virodhi Yuva Sangharsh Samiti, Paneeri Bachav Sangharsh Samiti, Lokprahar Sena and Society for Fast Justice.

The proposal for the port has already received the environmental ministry’s nod and is expected to be approved by the state cabinet in a few days, said officials. The cabinet had given in-principal approval for the port in February 2020. Prime minister Narendra Modi is expected to do the bhoomi poojan for the project.

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