Nearly 1,600 farmers and fisherfolk on Wednesday protested at Madban and Sakhri Nate in Ratnagiri district against the Jaitapur nuclear power plant.
No arrest was made, but police detained 22 activists, including Rajan Salvi, MLA, for violating the curfew order.
There was tension in the area throughout the day, even as the protest fizzled out at the actual Jaitapur plant site where only around 100 local farmers, including women, gathered to protest against the forcible land acquisition and to till the land they lost to the project.
Nearly 1,500 fisherfolk protested at Sakhri Nate village to show solidarity with the farmers of Madban and Mithgavane who lost their land to the project.
“The local farmers who lost their land decided to protest by tilling the land in the project area. The protest was marked by farmers taking their cattle and farming implements to the project site and tilling the land. They wanted to protest the forcible acquisition of land by the State government,” Vaishali Patil, an activist from the region who is now facing externment, told The Hindu.
“The local farmers have now formed a Madban Mithgavane Sangharsh Samiti to do community farming at the project site. We had already issued curfew orders and orders banning unlawful assembly near the plant site. There was heavy police deployment in the area. But the response to the protest was very weak as people decided not to break the law. We have detained 22 persons for not abiding by Section 37(1) (3) of the Police Act,” Pradeep Raskar, Ratnagiri Superintendent of Police, told The Hindu.
Activists said the police also imposed Section 144 of the Bombay Police Act prohibiting unlawful assembly in the area.
“The actual plan was that farmers and fishermen from across the area will come together at the project site. But that did not happen unfortunately,” Ms. Patil said.
There was hardly any participation from other villages such as Niveli, Karel, etc.
The protesters said they planned to launch ‘Chipko movement' in the region from next week to block the movement towards the plant site.