Home > In the Media > Jaitapur project: State ropes in clerics to bring fishermen around

Jaitapur project: State ropes in clerics to bring fishermen around

Rakshit Sonawane in Indian Express

March 7, 2011

Leaving no stone unturned to push the nuclear power project at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri district, the state government has decided to rope in Muslim clerics to convince the predominantly Muslim fishing community in the region that is opposing the project.

The fishing community in Nate and Sakhri Nate villages is apprehensive about curbs being imposed on movement of their trawlers and damage to marine life once the project goes critical. According to officials, over 30 per cent of fishing along the Ratnagiri coast is done by fishermen from Nate, using about 350 trawlers. The entire population is Muslim, while the Sakhri Nate village has a mixed population of about 800.

With NGOs and political parties opposed to the project like the RPI and Shiv Sena active here, fishermen from both villages had aggressively opposed the project during Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s visit on February 26. They had joined residents of other villages opposed to the project, such as Madban, Niveli, Karel, Mithgavane and Varliwada.

“Muslim clerics right from Chiplun to Nate have been contacted,” sources said. “A meeting of all clerics was also held recently… They were asked to convince the fishing community that the project would not affect marine life or impose any restrictions on the movement of their boats.”

The clerics, who are in touch with locals daily, have also been asked to talk about the safety factor and convince them that the project would not harm them. Industries Minister Narayan Rane has also met the clerics.

When contacted, Rane said: “Technically, Nate and Sakhri Nate residents are not PAPs (project affected persons). They are outsiders because they are not losing their land or houses. But we have worked out a package for them. It includes construction of a fishing jetty, creation of cold storage facilities, finance for trawlers, besides desilting of the Musa-Kazi fishing jetty and provision of nets and vessels to fishermen.

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