Soil testing begins at Jaitapur nuclear project site

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Sanjay Jog in Business Standard

March 07, 2011

Amid protests by villagers, various political parties and non-government organisations (NGOs), government-run Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) has begun soil inspection work and construction of a fencing wall at the site of the proposed 10,000-Mw nuclear power project at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

An NPC official, who had been to the project site last week with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, told Business Standard: “Soil analysis is essential before erection of the plant. This has been launched on 690 hectares of the total 938 ha of land. During the site inspection, the contracting agencies will dig boreholes and prepare a comprehensive report. In addition, construction of the boundary wall has started.”

After this, he said, NPC would start construction of a residential complex for company personnel. Later, it would undertake construction of health and educational complexes for project-affected persons and villagers near the project site.

The official said actual construction for the two European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 Mw was expected to begin in the middle of 2012. The first phase is expected to be commissioned by 2017-18.

A state government official, who did not want to be named, said the government had accorded top priority for timely implementation of the project. “The chief minister visited the site last week and tried to remove doubts of villagers and project-affected people, especially on security and environment protection. Despite this, some political parties and NGOs are pursuing their agitation. The chief minister has also agreed to visit villages predominantly involved in fishing to address their grivances. One thing is clear: the government will make all efforts to maintain law and order,” the official said.

He justified the drive by the police to arrest some of the villagers. Narayan Rane, former CM and present industries minister, said he hoped the villagers would not continue their agitation based on incorrect facts circulated by some agencies.

Project opponents have decided to hold agitations to mobilise public opinion. They are preparing to file at least three petitions against the project.


Cops bar Jaitapur activists from holding meeting citing prohibitory orders

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Sandeep Ashar in Times of India

March 7, 2011,

The Ratnagiri police on Sunday barred activists from protesting the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) project onT grounds that “such an event could disturb public tranquility”.

On Sunday morning, representatives from various outfits, who are a part of the project, were to meet in Pawas, which is situated 60 km from the N-plant site. The meeting was organized to discuss police action against some of the activists opposing the project and decide the future course of the movement.

The police action began around midnight on Saturday when three activists, namely Justice (retd) PB Sawant, Justice (retd) BG Kolse Patil and Vaishali Patil, were stopped by the police from entering the Ratnagiri district. The three activists had reached the district border, when the police asked them to refrain from entering. The Rajapur executive magistrate had issued an order last week which imposed restrictions on the movement of the three activists inside the district on grounds that it could disturb peace and tranquility in the region. The order was issued under provisions of Article 144(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The police also detained a few other activists, including Dr Vivek Bhide, Satyajit Chavan, and a retired ACP. , as a prohibitory measure They also staged naka bandis and patrolled railway stations to dissuade locals from attending the meeting, which later had to be cancelled.

Terming the police action as an attempt to “suppress” the voice of the protesters, Justice Sawant (retd) said, “The activists will file a writ petition challenging the prohibitory orders issued against me and two others.” He said, “The Constitution gives everyone the freedom to right to speech and expression.” Pravin Gavankar, another activist, alleged that the action was an attempt by the state machinery to force villagers to withdraw their opposition to the plant.

Pradeep Raskar, superintendent of police, Ratnagiri, defended the action. He said it was needed to maintain law and order. Raskar said that all the actions had been taken in keeping with the law. The orders have affected the protesters’ plans of holding a people’s tribunal at Mithgavane village to highlight “injustice to locals”. The hearings have been put off. . The state administration has been maintaining all possible public consultation steps and fair means had been taken before going ahead with the project, the protesting camp however disagrees with this observation. Meanwhile, there were reports that a delegation of MPs from the Left Parties was likely to visit the site sometime this week and meet the project affected people, these however could not be confirmed.

Will Continue to Oppose Jaitapur Plant: Shiv Sena

March 6, 2011 Leave a comment

From Outlook India

March 06, 2011

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray today said his party will continue its opposition of the proposed 9,900 mw capacity Jaitapur nuclear power plant in coastal Konkan region.

“We are still firm on our stand about Jaitapur and would oppose the project. We met the Chief Minister after his visit to Jaitapur to complain about the police atrocities in the villages,” Uddhav told reporters here today.

He said the Sena was with the local people, who are opposing the project on the grounds of environmental issues, possible health hazards and fear of loss of livelihood due to land acquisition.

The Sena leader had met Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan last week to discuss the Jaitapur project, which is facing strong opposition from the locals.

Chavan visited Jaitapur last month to interact with the locals, but faced fierce slogan-shouting.

Uddhav said Shiv Sena was against the long pending Maharashtra Eradication of dreadful and undesirable customs, Bill 2005 (introduced to prevent black magic and like practices).

“We will not allow the bill to pass in the Assembly and the party would oppose it,” he said.

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.