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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.

Nuclear Power Corporation dismisses reports of 10-fold increase in Jaitapur compensation package

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

From the DNA

March 4, 2011

Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has said it will abide by any decision Maharashtra government takes on the quantum of rehabilitation package for the displaced persons at the proposed nuclear power plant site in Jaitapur in Konkan which is facing opposition from locals.

A senior NPCL official, however, dismissed as “speculation” media reports that there will be a 10-fold increase in the compensation amount for the land acquisition.

He said a committee appointed to go into additional compensation amount has submitted its final report to the state and NPCL will abide by whatever the Government decides.

The official said NPCIL chairman and managing director SK Jain’s recent announcement in Kolkata of “improving the rehabilitation package 10 times than the existing one” was misquoted.

“Jain spoke of a ten-time better package and not a 10-fold increase in the amount,” he clarified.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is treating the mega power project as a priority and an announcement of final compensation amount was likely soon, the official said.

Chavan last week visited Jaitapur in coastal Ratnagiri district and assured “maximum” compensation for the displaced, mostly farmers.

The new package will be in two parts: cash and fixed deposit component. Other likely aspects include 20 years of annuity for loss of livelihood, house, a job to the eligible in each family and lifetime pension for senior citizens.

NPCIL is hoping to sign the final agreement for supply of two reactors for Jaitapur from French atomic major Areva soon. Areva will supply six reactors as per the general agreement reached in December.

Jaitapur hot destination for land deal

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Sanjay Jog in Business Standard

February 25, 2011

Developers’ rush triggers 20-fold land price surge.

Jaitapur, site of a proposed 10,000-Mw nuclear power project, and surrounding villages in coastal Ratnagiri and adjoining Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, are emerging as favoured destinations for land deals.

Information gathered from the state revenue department and local farmers reveal prices have escalated to Rs 40 lakh per acre from Rs 2-5 lakh in 2005-06. They expect this trend to accelerate as state-run Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) kicks off project development.

Atomic-plus
The immediate trigger is NPC’s intention to provide a per-acre land compensation of Rs 10 lakh for project affected persons. In addition, there is other development on or planned. Sajjan Jindal’s JSW Group has commissioned 600 Mw of a 1,200-Mw imported coal-based power project and a jetty is being commissioned for captive use. And, there are at least 10 minor and medium-sized ports being planned by the state government.

A revenue department official, who did not want to be identified, told Business Standard, “Jaitapur and villages in its vicinity are hot destinations, as they are situated along the coast. There are ample opportunities for tourism development, such as hotels and resorts and holiday homes in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, which are famous for mango and cashew cultivation. Nearly 110,000 tonnes of mangoes are produced annually from these two districts. Further, Jaitapur and surrounding villages can house non-polluting small and medium industries and units from the services sector.”

He said one guntha (1,000 sq ft) was fetching a paltry Rs 10,000-20,000 in 2005-06. The same unit now costs Rs 2-3 lakh.

The official said the entire region was in demand. “Land is currently being acquired by developers and individuals from Mumbai, Thane, Pune and even from other parts of India. The trend is to go for mango plantation or construction of small hotels and resorts. Some have also expressed intentions to develop container yards in view of the development of exsiting ports and those in the pipeline,” the official said.

Thane parallel
An NPC official, engaged in the planning and implementation of the Jaitapur project, explained: “The development (of the project) will ensure well-developed road infrastructure and assured power supply, apart from promotion of services. This is similar to what has happened in the Tarapur area in Thane district where Nuclear Power Corporation launched power generation in the 1960s. The entire region has transformed and so will be the case of Jaitapur and surrounding areas in the next few years.”

Vivek Bhinde, president of the Ratnagiri Zilla Jagruk Manch and a leading mango cultivator, admitted land prices were soaring and there was a mad rush for acquisition. “This is quite interesting, as locals are still opposing the project, mainly on environment grounds, despite clearance given by the ministry of environment and forests. Some of the buyers are keen to develop a land bank and make fortunes in the future,” he added.

Amar Desai, entrepreneur in the agriculture and horticulture sectors, said, “There were hardly any deals just five years ago. The per-acre land was priced below Rs 1 lakh or even at Rs 50,000 in some deals. But the ongoing debate over Jaitapur has attracted global attention and people are coming forward in big numbers to purchase land, preferrably along the coast.”

Jaitapur nuclear project: Prithviraj Chavan to meet villagers on Saturday

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

News item in DNA
Feb 24, 2011

Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan will meet villagers opposing the 9900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project in Ratnagiri district, on February 26.

Apart from interacting with the locals, he will also pay a visit to the site where the proposed project will come up.

The project is being opposed by the locals and supported by Shiv Sena.

Tomorrow, Chavan will tour Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts, the parliamentary constituency of industries minister Narayan Rane’s son Nilesh.

He will address public meetings and discuss the prevailing political situation and organisational matters with local leaders, State Congress general secretary Sanjay Dutt said.

Compensation for Jaitapur an exception, not a rule: Dy CM

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Clara Lewis in Times of India
Feb 24, 2011

MUMBAI: The Rs 10 lakh per acre compensation offered for the 10,000 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project is an exception rather than the rule, said Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister who also holds the energy portfolio.

Pawar said the government announced the Rs 10 lakh compensation to project affected persons as it was a central government sponsored project. “The state cannot afford to pay such an amount as compensation for every project,” he said. It is one of several nuclear power projects being undertaken in a thin strip of coast of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhdurga districts. The total power generation capacity estimated is 33,000 MW.

The energy minister said the project was a catalyst to attract other power projects to the state. The project is expected to generate electricity five to six years after commencement of construction. The cost of electricity from this project is estimated to be less than Rs 4 kilowatt hour.

Despite the huge compensation offered, local opposition to the nuclear power project continues. Nearly 2,355 villages are affected by the project. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan is likely to visit Jaitapur on February 26. To garner support amongst elected representatives the state government has organized a lecture by Anil Kakodkar, former chairman, Atomic Energy Commission to garner support for the project.

Jaitapur N- plant site: Where villagers dread the police

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Rahul Wadke in Hindu Business Line
Jaitapur, Ratnagiri, Feb. 7:

Three police posts are stationed at the table-top mountain, the site for the Jaitapur nuclear plant, where locals have been protesting for about five years now.

Beyond the site, fear stalks residents of the neighbouring villages of Madban, Mithgavane and Nate, where villagers say they are routinely questioned and even picked up at times for protesting against the proposed 10,000 MW nuclear plant .

Madban village, where the main plant will come up, is the epicentre of the protest and intensive police presence. As you approach the village from Ratnagiri, a police post confronts you.

The atmosphere of fear is palpable, so much so, this reporter approaching the village in a vehicle, almost sent villagers scurrying into the fields to hide, fearing it was a police jeep, they said. Their leader, Mr Pravin Gavankar, who has been fighting “forcible land acquisition,” was arrested by the police last week from his house at Madban.

Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) plans to set up a 10,000-MW nuclear-power plant based on the European Pressurised Reactor technology of France-based Areva at the village.

For five years, NPCIL has been holding negotiations with farmers of Madban and the neighbouring four villages for acquiring 938 hectares for the plant and a residential colony for the staff. In the last one year, the land was acquired allegedly without the consent of the land owners, under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.
Compensation

For barren land, farmers were offered Rs 53,000 to Rs 1.05 lakh an acre, while for grazing land, Rs 1.20 lakh to Rs 4.22 lakh. For good quality land that could bear paddy and had fruit-bearing trees, Rs 1.80 lakh to Rs 6.34 lakh was offered.

Of the 2,335 land owners, only about 100 have accepted their compensation cheques from NPCIL.

NPCIL’s Project Director, Mr C. B. Jain, told Business Line that preliminary work is going on at the site and no new negotiations have been held with villagers since the January 18 meeting called by the Chief Minister.

“For the last five years, we have been resisting plans of NPCIL of setting up a nuclear plant in our village. We made attempts to rescue our land from their clutches but now, it looks like a lost battle, laments Prasad Gavankar, farmer of the Madban village.

Prasad Gavankar, father of three school-going children, has lost 10 acres that provided him 1,500 kg rice every year.

“Villagers who have been resisting the plant are implicated in false cases by the police; there is an element of insecurity among people,” said Sandesh Chavan a local villager.

Police officers from Nate police station did not want to comment, saying only the Superintendent of Police could comment on the matter.

Some names in the article have been changed to protect their identity.

Villagers up the ante against Jaitapur N-plant

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Nikhil M Ghanekar in Tehelka

January 18, 2011

Panchayat heads resign, activists and villagers boycott meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan

In an effort to awaken the Maharashtra government to take notice of the growing opposition to the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Park, panchayat heads of 10 villages, along with 80 other elected members, have decided to resign. The panchayat heads of Madban, Niveli, Karel, Mithgavane, Ansure, Padve, Nate, Sakhari Nate, Dale and Jaitapur issued a statement to Ratnagiri Chief Executive Officer Dinesh Doke stating their opposition to the nuclear plant.

Local residents and environmental activists have been opposing the plant on grounds of radiation, environment and bio-diversity concerns. The plant, which will be the biggest in the world, will produce 9,900 MW of energy.

“We want the government to understand the severity of our opposition,” says Dr Milind Desai of the Janhit Sewa Samiti, Madban. “The panchayat heads of the villages surrounding the plant are never taken into confidence about administrative processes, so why should they continue to be in that position? The government has never wanted to know our stand. Our resignation will lead to a stagnation of the Gram Sabha and eventually they will have to listen to us.”

Desai says 25 more panchayat heads will join the protest and residents of these villages will make a request for a joint Gram Sabha to hold a referendum on the project under Section 7 of the Bombay Village Panchayat Act, 1958.

“We have collected nearly 600 signatures from local residents and more will be taken in a door-to-door campaign to petition against the project,” says Nate sarpanch Sanjay Bandkar.

On 18 January, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan organised a meeting with the affected people, activists and officials of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the Atomic Energy Commission to discuss the apprehensions about the plant. However, members of the Konkan Bachao Samiti, Konkan Vinashkari Prakalpa Virodhi Samiti, Janhit Sewa Samiti, Ratnagiri Jilha Jagruk Manch stayed away and sent a letter to Chavan explaining their reasons for the boycott.

“The locals are being treated as hardened criminals,” alleges Adwait Pednekar of the Konkan Bachao Samiti. “Externment orders and Section 37(3), (1), 144 (unlawful assembly) have been constantly promulgated in the area to prevent exercise of democratic rights. Why then are they asking them to come to Mumbai? All the locals, activists and protesters have consulted with independent bodies, nuclear scientists like Surendra Gadekar and Sanghamitra Gadekar, AEC, Ministry of Enviroment and Forests) and the AERB to arrive at the decision to oppose the plant. Our approach has always been scientific. Unlike what the state government thinks, we do not have any misconceptions and apprehensions about the project that we want to clear. Thus we abstained from attending this meeting.”

Pednekar added that if the government genuinely wants to discuss the issue, the police repression should be stopped, the land acquired forcibly should be returned, the reasons behind selecting Jaitapur as the site be explained and a suitable atmosphere should be created for dialogue.

The letter says there has not been any disclosure on crucial issues like the capital cost of the project, electricity tariff, design approval of the reactors, operational safety in the public domain.

Meanwhile, residents of Madban and neighbouring villages will once again gather in numbers for the annual Bhagwati Jatra this week and decide on their future course of action.