Time to Honour the Deal? People on Guard Against the Betrayal

Mihir Bhonsale

Not long ago did Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister of India sign the infamous Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal, amidst a furore from the Indian Left over India’s strategic alliance of the U.S. The truce was sheepishly made ignoring the vast majority of the dissenting voices to the Deal which eventually went un-represented. Madban and Haripur with Koodamcolum and Jadugauda, today, have become metaphors of the betrayal which the Indian state has inflicted on its masses.

Madban, a village on the Western Coast and in Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra on 22nd January 2010 became a site of protest and action against the Jaitapur Power Project of 10,000 MW capacity, a joint-initiative of the French Nuclear Corporation, Areva and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) NPCIL. Residents of Madban are hell-bent on resisting the project. Pravin Gavankar of the Jaitapur-Madban Anu Urja Virodhi Samiti and a project-affected said, ‘we are betrayed by the state administration’. ‘Our protest against the forcible land acquisition drive of the state administration for the Project, remains un-heeded to. ‘The state administration has deceived us every-time we have registered our resolve to not give up our land for the project.’ According to declared official sources around 938 heactres of land is required for the Jaitapur Nuclear Project. The distribution of cheques of compensation in lieu of the land was to be done on three days, 29th of December 2009, 12th January 2010 and 22nd January 2010. Till now not a single resident of Madban has accepted compensation for land from the State administration. Pravin Gavankar said that ‘on 22nd January, the police brutally lathi-charged us when the residents of Madban, protested against the Jaitapur Nuclear Project with Black Flags, saying “No” to the Nuclear Power Project.’ 1500 villagers had assembled to register their protest against the project.

Rambhau Patil, Acting General Secretary of the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF), noted, ‘the state administration has furthered the project ignoring the Panchayat’s strict refusal to implementation of the project in Madban.’ He also noted that the Fisher-folk of the coastal Maharashtra are with the Madban Anu Urja Virodhi Samiti in detesting the un-democratic crushing of the people’s movement against the Nuclear Power Plant.

The Konkan region where the Madban is located, in the last decade or so has seen a number of development projects which has made the vast majority of local people suffer reflected from the move to form the Kokan Vinashkari Prakalpa Virodhi Samiti, which is a network of individuals and organizations resisting, the implementation of projects adversely affecting the majority people’s interests. Also, Mumbai, Pune and Kolhapur have become centers of civil society demonstrations condemning the state for trying to implement the Nuclear Power Project.   
The Konkan Vinashkari Prakalpa Virodhi Samiti has already begun a march in solidarity of the protesting Madban villagers. The Republican Party of India (Rashtriya Lokshahi Agahadi) will also hold a dharna on the 2nd of February 2010 to protest against the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. When all heaven is let lose because of the Indian state’s betrayal, it has for the Madbanites, it becomes every citizen’s responsibility to voice themselves to salvage the people out of this man-made disaster named ‘Power’.