The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is supporting the locals' demand that the Jaitapur nuclear power project be scrapped and that the Maharashtra government return the land acquired for the purpose, apart from withdrawing all criminal cases against protestors.

On Saturday, Khagen Das, MP from Tripura; and Subhashini Ali, former MP, accompanied by activists of the Konkan Bachao Samiti and the Janwadi Mahila Sanghatana, visited the project area and met locals at Mithgavane and Sakhri Nate.

Ms Ali told The Hindu on the phone that the government had flouted its own rules in clearing the project. There was no study of its socio-economic impact, and the Environmental Impact Assessment by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute was shoddy, she said.

Moreover, the EIA report was submitted to only one panchayat in the project area and it was in English. Most of the 800-odd persons, who attended a public hearing, had opposed the project and yet the government cleared it, Ms. Ali said.

Pointing out that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board had not surveyed the site, she questioned the location of the project in a fragile environment. No one was consulted on the project, and the entire process was undemocratic.

Ms. Ali said people in the project area were following the events in Japan, where a nuclear power plant accident occurred after Friday's earthquake and tsunami. Jaitapur is also in a seismic zone and people were genuinely concerned, she said.

The project was initiated, she said, arbitrarily, using untested technology. All local members of panchayat samitis resigned in protest. Despite all this, land records of the people showed that their holdings had been acquired by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited , which is building the project.

Reject compensation

Except 112 people, all landholders refused compensation, and most of those who had accepted money lived in Mumbai, she said.

People were refusing to give up their land even after being offered Rs.10 lakh per acre. Fisherfolk also feared a serious impact on their livelihood.

Later Ms. Ali and Mr. Das met Ratnagiri Additional Collector Makrand Deshpande. The locals demanded the transfer of Ajit Pawar, sub-divisional officer in the area, who allegedly threatened women protesters.

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