Fisherfolk to oppose Jaitapur project

Fisherfolk to oppose Jaitapur project

Thousands of fisher-folk along the green-ribbon Konkan coastal belt of Maharashtra have decided to intensify their agitation against the proposed 9,900-MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project.

Notwithstanding statements made by Maharashtra Industry Minister Narayan Rane that the Konkan people have withdrawn their agitation, Gandhian activist Vaishali Patil told Deccan Herald on Sunday that none of the villagers have acquiesced to the nuclear project and “instead they are preparing for a protracted struggle that may even lead to the closure of road routes in Konkan in the coming weeks”.

According to Patil, though earlier it was the farmers who had taken up the issue, “at present the fishing community, angry at the government's furtive imposition of projects under the ambiguous and dubious word 'development', has decided to be on the forefront of struggle... Interestingly, even villagers who do not fall under the PAP category have also decided to stage protests in various forms in their respective regions.”

Last weekend, Rane called a press meet and announced, “Jaitapur Nuclear Project will have a smooth sailing as the villagers have accepted the demands of the State and have decided to withdraw their objections and movement against nuclear projects following an increase in compensation to project-affected people (PAP)”.

The revised package for the PAP says that instead of the earlier compensation of Rs 1-4.5 lakh per hectare, the rate would be now Rs 22.5 lakh per hectare.

According to Patil, who is a part of the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalpvirodhi Samiti, “The so-called leaders paraded by the state government belong to 'landed gentry' from the region and had attached themselves to the struggle to promote themselves as leaders opposing JNPP. These people had consulted neither grassroot leaders or organisations involved in the struggle nor villagers before giving their assent to the industries minister.”

The struggle against JNPP in the undulating hills dotting the state's coastline has been taking place since 2006 with the “invisible masses” — natives — raging against the nuclear and open-cast mining projects pockmarking the green ribbon stretching along the seashore.

Hardly any month has passed in the last seven years when the region has not reverberated with dissenting angry voices followed by police clampdown, rounding up of villagers and driving out of leaders, who are mostly women and form a major part of the agitators.