Thousands of villagers from around the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) site in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district on Wednesday launched a ‘jail bharo’ agitation demanding scrapping of the 9,900 MW plant.

 The agitators attempted to take out a peaceful protest march to the project site. But they were stopped three kilometres away, arrested and later released. The protesters had planned to surround the site to convey the symbolic ‘stop-the-work’ notice to the administration.

 “This was the first big agitation held after the firing incident in Sakhri Nate village. The government was deliberately spreading the rumour that villagers have softened their stand and are now ready to accept the project,” said Amjad Borkar of the Machhimar Kruti Samiti in Sakhri Nate. Mr. Borkar said the march was to tell the government that we did not change our stand. “We are confident of throwing the power plant out of Jaitapur,” he said.

 “The government should respect people’s sentiments. It should cancel all the agreements connected with JNPP,” said Mr. Borkar.

 The Shiv Sena and the Left parties also took part in the march. Rajan Salvi, local Sena MLA made it clear that the party would not allow contractors to work on the site. “They have built the compound wall by repressing our voices. We will not let contractors work on the site in future,” he said.

 “The project does not stand on technical as well as on democratic grounds. The technology is nowhere tested and all gram panchayats surrounding the site have said no to the project. The government instead of unleashing the police on the villagers, should respect the people’s sentiments,” said Prakash Reddy, of the Communist Party of India.