The protest against the 10,000 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project has suffered a blow, with two of the villagers leading the protests have switched camps and now support the nuclear plant. Between them, they own 15 per cent of the land required for the 937-hectare project.
Pravin Gavankar and Milind Desai were among the few who were associated with the protests since day one.
The duo, who own nearly 60 and 55 hectares respectively, declared last week that they had decided to support the plant, sparking concern that the protest would fizzle out.
Other figures from the state government added that they too believed that the protest would soon die out.
Explaining why, Ajit Pawar, sub-divisional magistrate of Ratnagiri district, said that they had already dispersed Rs 47 crore to a few people in compensation and, considering that Ganpati festivities were around the corner, more villagers would accept the recompense of Rs 22.5 lakh per hectare.
But leaders and locals who have been protesting since the project was announced in 2005, said that the duo’s decision to give up on the protests was of no major consequence. They claimed their decision was a personal one and that it wouldn’t affect their staunch remonstration.
Vaishali Patil, a social activist associated with the protest, dismissed claims that their movement would be affected. She said she hoped that this move would allow locals to fight their own battles rather than depend on leaders.
Rajan Salvi, MLA from Ratnagiri who’s part of the protests, said, “The villagers are united and we will fight till our last breath and won’t let the government construct the project. Two people leaving won’t have a major impact on the protest.”