Why do land acquisitions meet violent opposition?
People have always suffered after giving up their land. Reliance built the IPCL plant in Nagothane, Raigad, many years ago, but the people are yet to receive jobs in the plant or any of the factories. At the Tarapur Atomic Power Station, the locals are in a pathetic state. Most have contract jobs and no proper housing.
What should be the model of land acquisition?
The government should first rehabilitate and compensate the people and then start work on a project. The problem is the government is not honest. In spite of the prime minister’s assurance to Shiv Sena MPs that locals at Jaitapur would be taken into confidence, there is still no consensus on the project. On paper, the NPCIL has taken possession of the land, whereas few locals have signed on deeds or accepted compensation.
What should the government do when the locals oppose projects?
They should not go ahead with such projects. If you can accept the people’s verdict during elections, you should also do so while building SEZs and plants.
In Jaitapur, the locals have been agitating for almost two years. Why did the Shiv Sena enter the picture only in October 2010?
Initially the protests were peaceful. Later on, the locals started organising bigger agitations. It was only when the government started suppressing the locals, we decided to back the agitation. Besides, I have personally raised this issue many times in the Assembly.
But wasn’t it the Shiv Sena that alloted the land in 1995?
I don’t think we allotted the land.
But the NPCIL has documentary proof.
The Shiv Sena has been in this since 2010, I don’t know about 1995. I will look into it. And if we have committed a mistake, aren’t we allowed to rectify it?
Nikhil M Ghanekar is a Correspondent with Tehelka.com