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Three stopped from entering Ratnagiri

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

From the Indian Express

March 7, 2011

Ratnagiri police on Sunday prohibited three activists who have been protesting against the Jaitapur nuclear power project from entering the district. The Konkan Bachao Vinashkari Prakalp Samiti was scheduled to hold a meeting at Pawas, about 50 km from Jaitapur.

Ratnagiri SP Pradeep Raskar said prohibitory orders had been issued against activists Vaishali Patil, Justice B G Kolse-Patil and Justice P B Sawant for 15 days as they could “create tension in the district during their visit”. While Patil and Kolse-Patil have been served with similar notices twice in the past, Sawant has been served notice for the first time. In the past, Sawant had been restrained once, but no orders were issued against him.

Earlier in the week, prominent activist Dr Milind Desai was arrested in a rioting case registered against him and others in December. Desai is still in police custody. Desai was picked up two days after he spoke against the government during a public meeting of locals with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in Jaitapur. During the same meeting, Patil was asked to leave the premises as she did not belong to the affected area. She refused to budge and it led to a confrontation with the police.

Locals from the villages of Madban, Mithgavane, Karel, Nate and Sakri Nate are protesting against the world’s largest nuclear power park to be set up in the coastal Konkan region of Jaitapur.

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Jaitapur project: State ropes in clerics to bring fishermen around

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

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.

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.

Show cause notice to environmental activist

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Anusha Subramanian in Business Today

March 4, 2011

Vaishali Patil, an activist with an organization that fights environmental destruction in the Konkan region, has been served a show cause notice on Friday morning by the Rajapur Executive Magistrate of Ratnagiri district. According to the notice, Patil, who works with the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, has been asked to give an assured guarantee of Rs 50,000 and also sign a bond of Rs 50,000 which promises that she will not break the peace in Jaitapur for at least one year.

The show cause notice has been issued to Patil on the grounds that she has been instrumental in provoking the people of Jaitapur to oppose the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) and the fact that she herself has participated in all the protests. Patil says she will challenge the order in court.

“This is how the authorities have been laying legal trap on all those opposing the JNPP project. So that we are running pillar to post trying to get out of the legal shackles,” she says. This show cause notice follows up several arrests that took place early this week. The police arrested Dr Milind Desai, a resident of Mithgavane village, and 10 others in a two-month-old case on charges of rioting, attempted murder, breaking the peace in Jaitapur and several other such charges. But villagers say Desai was arrested because he opposed the project and spoke against the state government. Desai had lashed out at the government by calling it ‘Shameless’ during Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s visit to Jaitapur on February 26, 2011.

Patil has been a target for some months now. During the CM’s visit, Narayan Rane, the State Industries Minister, was particularly angered by Patil’s presence and asked Konkan Inspector-General of Police Parambir Singh why outsiders were allowed to attend a public meeting addressed by the chief minister. Patil is from Raigad district and was instrumental in the protest against the Reliance SEZ project.

Rane then ordered the IG to ask Patil to leave the meeting. She and others were also asked to remove their black badges. Patil refused and when the police tried to evict her, women from the project-affected villages who were present at the meeting rose in her support and created a scene. Fearing there could be violence, the police did not act further and Patil stayed through the meeting.

While protestors did not resort to violent behaviour, tempers were running high and there was slogan shouting. The people made it clear to the government that they were against the JNPP.  At the public meeting in the presence of the CM, Prakash Waghdare from Madban village asked the audience to raise their hands if they opposed the project and nearly everyone in the audience did so. He said the government had to respect people’s feelings and cancel the project.

Jaitapur N-project: ‘Govt trying to suppress people’s voice’

March 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Ashish Jadav in DNA
March 2, 2011

Retired Supreme Court Judge, PB Sawant, on Tuesday alleged that in a bid to suppress the voice of people against the Jaitapur nuclear power project, the state police have indiscriminately started arresting activists and Jaitapur residents opposing it.

To protest against the injustice, social organisations have planned to organise a Lok Adalat on March 6 and 7 at Mitgavane village near Jaitapur, Sawant told reporters. It will be attended by retired chief justice of the Delhi high court, Ajit Shah, and retired justice of the Tamil Nadu high court, K Sampat.

Sawant said chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and industry minister Narayan Rane faced stiff opposition from the locals on the issue of the nuclear plant at a public rally on February 26.

He also alleged that the Ratnagiri police, on Rane’s instructions, have arrested at least 11 people who were in the forefront of the opposition. They were booked for attempt to murder and rioting under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Sawant said, “The activists are opposing the upcoming nuclear power project in a democratic way, but the government machinery is acting against them in a highly undemocratic manner and trying to suppress their voice without discussing the issue across the table.”

“We appeal to the state government, the Centre, the prime minister and the environment minister to answer our queries on the safety of the region,” Sawant added.