At nuclear plant site, another village says no

The second round of the land acquisition process for the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant has also met with dissent.

On October 31, residents of Karel village in Ratnagiri district, about 450 km from Mumbai, refused to accept acquisition notices for about 70 hectares to set up colonies for the staff employed at the plant site.

The notification summoned around 165 villagers to collect their compensation cheques on November 10.

“I did receive information that some villagers did not accept the acquisition notices. However, we are yet to decide the next course of action,” said Makarand Deshmukh, special land acquisition officer.

Of the five villages — Madban, Mithgawane, Karel, Niweli and Ansure — from which land has to be acquired, Karel is the second village where the notice has been sent.

“Not accepting the notice is our way of saying we won’t deter,” said Pravin Gavandkar (56), who is spearheading the protests under the banner of Janhit Seva Samiti.

“We do not want to negotiate over the compensation amount. We don’t want the nuclear plant.”

This is not the first time that villagers have refused to part with their land comprising paddy fields, mango orchards and dry grass where their cattle graze.

Last month, 187 villagers from Niweli village had refused to accept compensation cheques on two occasions.

The state government now plans ex-parte acquisition of land, which is provided in the law.

The compensation being offered to villagers is Rs 3 per sq ft. Villagers allege that the amount offered is paltry and that land in Jaitapur — 8 km from the plant site — is being sold at a market rate of up to Rs 10,000 per sq ft.

“The government says the land is barren. But it also gives bricks that are used to build homes,” said Gavandkar.

He has done his math — 1,087 sq ft land gives 8,000 bricks, each costing Rs 20.

“Going by that, the value of the plot is Rs 1.60 lakh,” he said.

Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd’s officials, however, expressed willingness to negotiate with the villagers.

Of the 938-hectares, 700 hectares will house the six European-pressurised heavy water reactors imported from France and poised to generate 1,650 mega watts of power. While an environmental clearance for the reactor site is still awaited, the current land acquisition process is to set up utility facilities for the staff at the plant.