Archive for March 5, 2011

Rane: Govt willing to take Jaitapur PAPs to Tarapur

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

From the Indian Express

March 5, 2011

Industries Minister Narayan Rane has said the Jaitapur nuclear power project will go ahead and the government is willing to take those opposing the project to Tarapur power station to allay their fears. He, however, ruled out the possibility of making the project-affected people (PAPs) shareholders in the project, claiming that an unprecedented compensation package had been worked out.

Rane told The Indian Express on Friday that a few big farmers and outsiders were misleading the residents. “We are willing to take them to Tarapur to demonstrate that such projects are safe… The problem is that they don’t come forward and are being misguided… The project is safe. It is planned over 938 hectares; does not displace a single house or agriculture land, only 150 mango trees; and we have worked out a good compensation package.”

On some speakers opposing the project — like Dr Milind Desai — being heckled on the dais during the visit of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to Jaitapur, Rane said he and his son (and local MP Nilesh Rane) had objected to a speaker using unparliamentary language.

He said the arrest of 12 persons, including Desai, after Chavan’s visit was in connection with an old case of rioting. “The action was taken by the police. We had not asked the police to arrest them… the law will take its course. It is true that the police delayed in arresting them, but it was because they were absconding.”

Asked about the possibility of PAPs being made shareholders in the project, he said, “The policy of Navi Mumbai (airport) does not apply here (in Jaitapur) because we have worked out the highest compensation package… our revenue department’s compensation starts at Rs 46,000 per acre, but we are planning to give Rs 10 lakh per acre in Jaitapur. Besides, a lumpsum amount of Rs 25 crore would be deposited as fixed deposit and the interest accrued would be distributed annually to PAPs. Also, two per cent of the profits would be used for local development.”

He said the project was planned during the NDA regime and former Sena MP Suresh Prabhu had taken credit for initiating it.

He said Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray’s proposed visit to the site was an act of hypocrisy. He also expressed displeasure over Ratnagiri district guardian minister Bhaskar Jadhav (NCP) staying away from Chavan’s interaction.

Rane ruled out the possibility of a pilot project to be undertaken to convince the residents. “Such projects are not done in bits and pieces… The project will go ahead…The work of building a boundary wall has already started.”

He said the government was also being sympathetic towards the fishing community that was not affected by the project by working out a package for them.

HC refuses to grant relief on Jaitapur meet

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Hetal Vyas in Times of India

March 5, 2011,

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court refused to grant interim relief to the Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights, which is to hold a public hearing in Jaitapur on the proposed nuclear power plant on Friday.

A division bench of Justices B H Marlapalle and U D Salvi declined to pass a formal order for the tribunal’s un- restricted visit to the village.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the tribunal, which includes retired high court judges, former chief justice of the Delhi high court, Justice A P Shah, and former Supreme Court judge Justice P B Sawant. The tribunal is slated to hold a public hearing.

The petitioner’s advocate, Gayatri Singh, said people who were trying to enter the village were being arrested.

“The police keep checking cars entering and leaving. Just because our views are contrary, we should not be put behind bars,” Singh said.

“If that is so, in such an atmosphere, why do you want to hold a hearing?” the court asked. The judges said that one person was killed recently during protests. “If the state wants to be cautious, we cannot fault it,” the court remarked.

The court also observed: “What is this tribunal going to do? Retired judges are not experts on nuclear matters.”

The judges suggested that the tribunal instead request the government to set up a fact-finding committee comprising scientists who are not on the Maharashtra government’s rolls.

The court also remarked that the tribunal’s visit was a “project-centric exercise” and said it must look into issues such as why Naxalism was growing in the state or even malnutrition.

Adjourning the matter for two weeks, the court observed that a committee of scientists was better to make the people understand the issue.

“While it is a prestigious project for any state, we don’t want to say it has to be hoisted at the cost of human life or marine life and even ecology,” the court observed.

Permission denied for ‘public hearing’ on Jaitapur project

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

From The Hindu

March 5, 2011

MUMBAI: Ratnagiri Collector Madhukar Gaikwad has denied permission for the two-day Independent People’s Tribunal ‘public hearing’ on the Jaitapur nuclear power project proposed to be held on March 6 and 7 at Niveli, one of the affected villages.

Deepika D’Souza of the Tribunal said that Mr. Gaikwad, in a letter on Friday, refused permission as per orders from the police. No grounds for disallowing the meeting were given, she said.

Ms. D’Souza said this was completely illegal especially since the Chief Minister recently addressed a peaceful meeting there. She said the hearing stood postponed as a result of the order and it would be held later.

Two retired judges, A.P. Shah and K. Sampat, were to preside over the hearing along with some experts.

Mr. Gaikwad said the district administration had not got any authority from the State government to attend the hearing. The Tribunal had invited government officials too.

Superintendent of Police Pradip Raskar told The Hindu that the police had submitted a report to the district magistrate and that they feared a law and order problem.

Holding such a hearing would be “like running a parallel government” and the local people had not demanded it, Mr. Raskar added.

Security in the project area has been strengthened with check-posts at entry points and police deployment.

Activists feared that the arrest of Milind Desai and others was an attempt to jeopardise the hearing. Dr. Desai and other activists were given magisterial custody and they plan to apply for bail.

Tough atmosphere

Ms. D’Souza said the hearing would be difficult in an “atmosphere of repression,” but was hopeful it would be held sometime later.

The Tribunal has challenged the collector’s order in the Bombay High Court. Ms. D’ Souza said the court had asked for a detailed affidavit on the repression in the Jaitapur area. Meanwhile, prohibitory orders were clamped in the area on Friday.

Sushilkumar Shinde to visit nuclear power project in Jaitapur

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

From the DNA

March 5, 2011

The Union power minister Sushilkumar Shindeon Saturday said there was a need to spread awareness about merits of Jaitapur nuclear power project in coastal Ratnagiri district, which is facing a fierce local opposition.

“I will visit Jaitapur and talk to the people directly,” he said in Solapur district of Maharashtra talking to reporters adding that the project was needed to overcome power shortage in the state.

There would be no side effects of the project, as people are fearing, he said. “All political parties should come together to find a solution,” he said.

Medha Patkar’s words haunt me today

March 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Deepak Lokhande in DNA

March 5, 2011

Years ago, when I had gone to cover Medha Patkar’s agitation seeking review of Sardar Sarovar dam that would displace thousands of tribals in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, she had asked a question which I then thought was pretty absurd.

“Living in the plush urban settings, you Mumbaikars will never understand the pain of displacement. Wait till the government finds gold or crude in Mumbai and asks you to leave your houses and take the rehabilitation package they are offering to these tribals. We will see you then,” she had said. I had not even bothered to respond.

Almost 15 years later, her words came back to haunt me as one saw Juhu citizens asking MMRDA to the review elevated metro project and consider taking an underground route.

An elevated Metro will cause traffic jams for years and render the road useless for further expansion, they say. MMRDA’s reasoning that it will cost much more and that there is no place to dump the rubble, doesn’t resonate with the residents of Juhu.

If you ask the residents, they will say the government agency is too arrogant. Exactly what Patkar and her colleagues had said about the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments then.

Let’s look at the Jaitapur villagers who will be displaced by the nuclear power plant. The government is willing to pay them ten times the normal rehabilitation package, but they don’t want any of it.

The plant, that is expected to generate 10000MW of electricity, will cause irreparable environment damage and hence they don’t want it in their backyard.

It’s the same issue from Sardar Sarovar, to Juhu and to Jaitapur. But we react to them differently to each of them. Medha Patkar was antinational (she is, even today, to most urban people), Juhu residents are a poor lot who the government must listen to, and Jaitapur villagers should look at the power crunch in the country.

“What more do they want?” is a question most of us will want to ask.

I have a different question: Whose development at whose cost?
Sardar Sarovar oustees fought hard before a rehabilitation package was designed and then gave way to the dam being built.

Today, the waters have brought some respite to some parts of Gujarat (Patkar and her colleagues say that it benefits only the haves).

Elevated Metro will cost much less (about Rs50,000 crore as per the MMRDA claims) and hence could be a viable option. And there is no denying that Maharashtra and indeed, the nation, needs that 10000 MW electricity.