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Local residents and anti-nuclear activists opposing the 10,000-MW Jaitapur nuclear power project have decided to continue their fight even though some local leaders have relinquished their leadership roles.
On October 13, villagers and activists will again sit for a dharna at the plant site.
Last week, Praveen Gavankar, President of the Janhit Seva Samiti (JSS) had declared that he was no longer opposed to the project and had met Industries Minister Narayan Rane in Ratnagiri, pressing for proper relief and rehabilitation of the locals. Milind Desai, who was a second rung leader, has also withdrawn from the agitation.
The JSS is a grassroots organisation comprising local residents who are opposing the project due to concerns of radiation and loss of livelihood. It has members in the five villages that are affected by the proposed plant.
On Monday, General Secretary of JSS, Shyamsundar Narvekar told mediapersons that Gavankar had taken a unilateral decision to withdraw support for the agitation,
"The work of JSS will not slow down. Betrayal by Gavankar will only further fuel the agitations. We want the project cancelled," he said.
The mammoth nuclear project is being executed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), with an investment of over Rs 1 lakh crore. It has been facing major opposition since 2005. This has prevented NPCIL from putting up any major civil structures at the 900-hectare site. Bhikaji Vaghdhare, a member of the JSS who had waged a long legal battle against the plant, said that in 2005 NPCIL was offering Rs 33,750 per hectare as compensation to the project-affected. Today, it is offering Rs 22 lakh per hectare.
"Probably, this kind of monetary benefit has influenced Gavankar to accept the compensation. As he has lost over 140 areas of land to the project, he will get a huge compensation from NPCIL," Vaghdhare alleged.
R. K. Sinha, Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy, said on the sidelines of a public function at Tata Hospital here that Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is supervising the negotiations with Jaitapur villagers. NPCIL is ready to give compensation and provide additional social amenities to the locals residents, he said.
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