‘The project will destroy our livelihood and business of fishing’

In a unique protest, hundreds of fishermen from the vicinity of the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP) sailed in the sea around the project site in their boats and staged the first-ever ‘sea rally’ against the project on Friday.

More than 200 boats with banners opposing JNPP and nuclear power were mobilised for the protest. Slogans such as ‘No More Fukushima’ and ‘No more Hiroshima’ rent the air.

“This project will destroy our livelihood and our business of fishing. While the farmers are battling on land, we have decided to register our protest in the sea. We want to tell the government that we too are going to suffer because of JNPP and we do not want this project here,” said Mansoor Solkar, one of the organisers of the protest.

Protesters from Sakhari Natye, Natye, Tulsunde and Sagve villages launched their boats from the opposite side of the project site, three km away, and encircled the site.

“This is our answer to the government which is hell-bent on bringing the project and claiming that there is no opposition,” said Satyajit Chavan of Jan Hakka Samiti, which is spearheading the protest against the project.

Though this is the first ‘sea protest’ by fishermen against JNPP, a similar agitation was carried out in 2012 by fishermen against the commissioning of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

Earlier last week, gram sabhas of Madban and Mithgavhane had passed a resolution against project. The resolutions said that the villagers have accepted compensation packages from the government since they were left with no other option.

“Accepting compensation package from the government does not mean we have agreed to the nuclear power project in our backyard,” said the resolutions.

The strong reactions from the villagers are the result of recent statements by various leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who said that the JNPP will be commissioned at any cost.

BJP’s ally and partner in both State and at the Centre, Shiv Sena, has made it clear that it will continue its opposition to the project until the people are against it.