Hundreds of villagers on Friday staged a silent protest against the Jaitapur nuclear power project in Ratnagiri district and courted arrest at Madban near the project site.

According to local activists, nearly 3,000 people staged protests and were picked up by police.

The police also prevented activists from entering the project area, with Admiral (retired) L. Ramdas and Justice (retired) P.B. Samant being prevented from going to Madban.

The police took the arrested villagers to a school compound near Hativali and are likely to release them later.

While announcing fresh compensation for those displaced by the Jaitapur project, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane recently said that the local people were not against the project and that outsiders were instigating them.

On Thursday, a 14-member expert appraisal committee for nuclear projects visited Madban. The committee, which was under heavy police escort, did not meet any of the local villagers.