In a last-minute change of plans, protesters opposed to the Jaitapur nuclear power project will now meet Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday and address the public meeting. Till Friday evening, they had decided to boycott the Chief Minister's meeting to show their staunch opposition to nuclear energy.
However, at a meeting in Madban near the project site, Pravin Gavankar from the Janhit Seva Samiti and members of various anti-nuclear groups decided not to boycott the meeting and in turn have been allowed half an hour to make their points.
The meeting will take place at Maneshwar temple at Karel village, one of the project affected villages. Mr. Gavankar said the police had visited the village and warned people against shouting slogans or carrying banners. Local rickshaw drivers have been asked to remove anti-nuclear stickers from their vehicles.
Mr. Gavankar said that about 2,000 people would attend the meeting. He was released on bail recently after a chapter case was filed against him. Police has filed chapter cases against several protesters who took part in the jail bharo agitation last October and December.
A public invitation to attend the meeting was issued by a local official on Friday. Prohibitory orders, put in place to prevent protests, have been lifted. Mr. Gavankar and others will submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister stating their firm opposition to the proposed nuclear power project.
Coinciding with the meeting on Saturday, project affected people in Tarapur near Mumbai will stage protests against their incomplete rehabilitation after 40 years. The Tarapur nuclear power project displaced people and those who were given jobs in the plant were on contract. Some 200 people are now jobless.