Jaitapur: Mob ransacks hospital, torches buses in Ratnagiri district

United News of India

Mumbai, April 19, 2011

A mob ransacked a hospital and torched buses during a strike called by the Shiv Sena in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra today against the police firing that killed one person during a protest against the proposed nuclear power plant at Jaitapur.

The mob attacked the district hospital and damaged its post-mortem wing in Ratnagiri besides setting on fire some state transport buses and other vehicles, officials said.

The Maharashtra government defended the controversial 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project in the coastal district in the Konkan region in the state legislature.

Home Minister R R Patil also announced a magisterial inquiry into the police firing at protesters at Nate village near the proposed site, in which one person died.

However, in the same breath, he defended the power project and took potshots at the Shiv Sena, which is strongly opposing the project.

The issue of firing at Jaitapur village was raised by leader of the opposition Eknath Khadse and it was taken up for discussion in the Assembly, dropping the question hour.

He said firing was the last resort of police which they opted for when the situation went out of control. He said the government would conduct an inquiry to ascertain whether there was any political conspiracy in yesterday's incident.

"Your elder brother (BJP) is supporting the project and the younger (MNS) also . In this situation, how people will remain with you," he asked.

He also brought up the issue of Enron's Dabhol Power Project, which was dumped by the Sena-BJP government, and said now power was the need of hour for all. In such a situation, no party should take a stand against development.

Mr Patil and other Congress-NCP legislators took potshots at the Sena for reviving Enron and opposing the Jaitapur nuclear power project.

"Why should development not come to your area and go to other areas?" he asked and wondered how there could be development without power.

"We are ready for discussion with the agitators on any issue but they should come forward," the Minister added.

Mr Khadse taunted the Congress saying that the party legislators in Gujarat were opposing a power project. He demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh for the kin of deceased. At one stage, the Sena seemed to be cornered on the issue as Mr Khadse said that his party was not against the project but stressed the need for understanding the sentiments of locals. Mr Bala Nandgaonkar (MNS) also echoed the same sentiments.

Sena leaders Subhash Desai and Suresh Jain, however, said that the locals were opposing the project and the government must take this into account.

Replying to the debate in the Legislative Council on a motion moved by Mr Ramdas Kadam, Mr Patil said the inquiry would also be conducted to ascertain whether it was a political conspiracy to provoke people against the project.

Mr Patil told the house that agitation was the fallout of the statement given by Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh that there would not be any review of the proposed Jaitapur project. He said thereafter some political leaders had held a public meeting and provoked people against the project.

The Minister said acting on a specific information that people would stage protest, the government had deputed sufficient police force at the site. But the agitators attacked a police team with sticks and pelted stones at them, in which, a deputy superintendent of police was injured. The inquiry would also investigate in what condition the firing was ordered, he said.