Officials who came for soil testing sent back

Government officials who came to carry out soil testing for a proposed atomic power plant in Gujarat's Bhavnagar district had to go back due to resistance and demonstrations by local villagers.

The proposed 8,000 MW capacity plant, a joint venture of the Central and State governments with the support of the United States, is to be set up close to the Alang ship-breaking yard in coastal Saurashtra.

The people of five villages are protesting as they fear they will lose their land if the project comes up. The residents of 40 other villages are resisting the move apprehending adverse impact of the atomic power station.

Several voluntary organisations have been organising “awakening programmes” for the last few months in the area to mobilise people against the plant.

On Friday, a few officials of the State government, along with a posse of policemen, reached Jaspara village before sunrise to take soil samples and carry out some other tests. Soon, nearly 3,000 people from the five villages collected at the site and prevented the officials from carrying out the assigned work.

The officials already unloaded the drilling and other equipment from the trucks before the people gathered, but could not carry out the work as people “gheraoed” the site and did not allow the officials to continue. The officials then left.

‘Wasteland'

Official sources claimed that most of the land coming under the power project was government wasteland and not much of land acquisition would be required from private sources. But the people in the region were against an atomic plant to in the area, apprehending serious health hazards.