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Nuke power project: 3000 villagers court arrest in Ratnagiri

Anil Singh, TNN, Oct 29, 2010
MADBAN VILLAGE (RATNAGIRI): This tiny village took on the might of the state on Friday and by the evening, victory clearly belonged to it. Despite preventive arrests, prohibitory orders and road blocks more than 3000 villagers‘ courted arrests, as part of their ‚Jail Bharo‘ agitation. By 6 pm, the police requested the leaders of the agitation to stop the flow of people.

The agitation was primarily in response to the government claim that the villagers were quiet and only a handful of outsiders were leading the agitation against the proposed 10000 MW nuclear power project in the village.

The agitation started peacefully at noon at Bhagwati temple in the village. Hundreds of women including the elderly queued up to be arrested, followed by the men folks. The police had arranged for four ST buses, but they failed awfully short, as villagers of Madban and the neighbouring villages continued to pour in.

The 250-strong contingent of policemen came prepared with riot gear and rifles, but there was not even slogan shouting. „This is a show of strength and the government must now realise that we cannot be taken for granted,“ Pravin Davankar of the Janhit Seva Samiti, which has been opposing the project for the past five years.

Arun Velaskar of the Konkan Bachao Samiti said, „The repressive measures of the state would not be tolerated.“ Vivek Monteiro, a labour leader said that AREVA, the French firm, which has been given the contract for the nuclear reactor, is under a cloud in Europe.

The villagers were angry because the government was refusing to tell them the truth and releasing information in bits and pieces. „After all, we are the ones to be directly affected,“ said Sanjay Gavankar, a villager, who runs a cashew nut factory.

The villagers had steadfastly refused compensation and even lit bon fires of the revised compensation package announced by the state revenue minister Narayan Rane, who’s son Nilesh, is the MP from Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri.

Retired High Court judge B G Kolse-Patil, who had being served orders preventing him from entering Ratnagiri District, flouted the ban and attended the rally. While the police were looking for him on the road, he took the sea route and appeared dramatically in the temple at 3 pm. „I will oppose this sort of high-handedness by the state tooth and nail,“ he said. The police had to physically carry him off to arrest him.

Retired Admiral L Ramdas and retired Supreme Court Judge P B Samant, who were coming to the rally, were stopped by the police at Hativali junction on the Mumbai-Goa Highway.

Lauri Myllyvirta — Greenpeace, India
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The man who has gotten everything he wants is all in favor of peace and order. -Jawaharlal Nehru