NPCIL spokesperson says they will return after things normalise; equipment are still there

Workers employed at the Jaitapur nuclear power project site at Madban village have fled after the violent incidents on April 18 when a mob damaged equipment and indulged in arson.

A Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) spokesperson on Thursday told The Hindu on the phone that workers have left since the situation was not conducive to staying there. “In any case, there are a few holidays from tomorrow [Friday] which is Good Friday and the workers have left temporarily. However, they will return soon after things have returned to normal,” he said.

He could not confirm how many workers were at the plant site. He said that a compound wall was being built and there were cement-mixers. He added that no equipment was moved out from the site.

The site is well-guarded with a large posse of police which faced the brunt of Monday's attack led by Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Salvi.

Pravin Gavankar of the Janhit Seva Samiti at Madban, who is leading the protests, said the company was moving out equipment after the attack and the workers had all left. There were about 100 people working at the site, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the proposed Tarapur-Jaitapur yatra, which is set to begin from April 23 and end on April 25, seems to be in trouble. Justice (retired) B.G. Kolse Patil told The Hindu on the phone that the Director General of Police (DGP), Maharashtra, Ajit Parasnis had called him up on Wednesday asking him to call off the proposed yatra. Mr. Parasnis cited the tense situation in the area. The yatra is scheduled to end with a public meeting at Sakhri Nate on April 25.

Mr. Patil told the DGP that it was impossible to call it off since people had begun leaving from all parts of the country to reach Tarapur on April 23 morning. He said the people would hold a peaceful protest and were willing to face arrest. “In the past, people had staged two jail bharo protests against the Jaitapur project — on October 29 and December 4 last year — and there was no untoward incident. We are willing to go to jail and our yatra will be peaceful.”

Even Ratnagiri Superintendent of Police Pradip Raskar had called him up with the same request.

About 50 organisations are taking part in the yatra as also activists including Vandana Shiva, Banwarilal Sharma from Azadi Bachao Andolan, Praful Bidwai, Anil Sadgopal, Admiral (retired) L. Ramdas, Vishnu Bhagwat, and Justice (retired) P.B. Sawant.

The yatra has support from the National Confederation of Officers Associations of Central Public Sector Undertakings and All India Power Engineers Federation.

Judicial custody

Meanwhile, Rajan Salvi, Shiv Sena MLA, and 10 others who were arrested in connection with the violence at Madban were given judicial custody till April 26, according to Mr. Raskar. The rest of the 39 arrested are still in judicial custody. Mr. Raskar said he did not know about the workers leaving the project site.