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Jaitapur plant will block Yashwantgad, Vijaydurg

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Pune Mirror
January 30, 2011

Locals say that once the nuclear plant comes up, the two Shivaji-era forts will be out of bounds for tourists and researchers, plant will also affect the Western Ghat ecology

Even as the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Ratnagiri is being opposed by villagers and fishermen for its negative impact on the social and environmental development of the area, there are other apprehensions among nature-lovers. Yashwantgad and Vijaydurg, the two forts from the Chhatrapati Shivaji era, will go out of reach of tourists and researchers once the plant starts functioning.

Sachin Joshi, professor of archaeology, Deccan College, said, “The Impact Assessment Report of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board did not take into account objections of archaeologists. The plant will put the two forts out of bounds for tourists and researchers.”

The restrictions

After the plant starts functioning, at least two km area from Jaitapur will be declared a restricted zone. Yashwantgad stands on the opposite side of the creek, while the aerial distance between Vijaydurg and Jaitapur is about 2.5 km. Thus, both the forts will fall under the restricted zone.

Joshi suggested mapping and documentation of the forts can help the future generation in their research work. He cited an example of the mapping of forts at Latur and Ausa, which were destroyed in the massive earthquake on September 30, 1993.

Yashwantgad, the last fort on the 720-km-long coastal belt in Maharashtra, is at Redi village, 20 km from Vengurle town. Originally belonging to Adilshah of Bijapur, the fort was won by Shivaji during his military campaigns and later by the British in 1818. It stands in good condition and many historical relics are preserved there. Interestingly, it neither falls under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India nor the state archaeological department.

Local opposition

Local villagers and activists have opposed the nuclear plant saying it will destroy the flora and fauna as well as create large scale pollution in the Arabian Sea. The plant falls in the Konkan region, which is adjacent to the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats and close to Mumbai.

Pradeep Indulkar of Konkan Anti-Nuclear Project Committee (KANPC) said, “The opposition is so widespread that not a single villager has taken monetary compensation for the land to be acquired for the plant.”

The KANPC and Konkan Bachav Samiti (KBS) are spearheading the movement for scrapping of the nuclear plant.

Alka Joshi of Lokayat, which is part of KBS, said, “The chief minister is under the impression that increased compensation will ease the land acquisition problem. But we are not for more compensation. We want the plant to be scrapped.”

Joshi said that before the nuclear power plant came up at Tarapur, over 500 boats used to catch fish in the area. Now the number has dwindled to five or six. She said this time the locals vented their anger against the government by skipping the flag hoisting ceremony on Republic Day. “Even the schools remained closed,” she claimed.

The project

The 9,360-MW nuclear project will be run by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) in association with Areva, France.

It is the first major international power project in India after the Indo-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement took place in October 2008. Despite stiff opposition, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had publicly announced last week in Sangli that the plant will come up at any cost.

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