(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 24, 2011
CPI(M), CPI LEADERS VISIT JAITAPUR
Left Demands Stop to Nuclear Project
ON July 12, a delegation of the Left parties visited the project-affected areas of Ratnagiri district which are going to be affected by the Jaitapur nuclear project. The delegation consisted of CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, its Central Committee member Tapan Sen, MP, CPI national secretary D Raja, MP, PWP leader Dhairyasheel Patil, MLA, Dr Ashok Dhawale, Mahendra Singh, Kiran Moghe, Dr Vivek Monteiro and Hemkant Samant of the CPI(M), Narayan Ghagare, Prakash Reddy and Uday Chaudhary of the CPI, and Adwait Pednekar and Mangesh Chavan of the Konkan Bachao Samiti. This visit could well prove to be a landmark in the struggle to stop the ill-considered Jaitapur nuclear power project (JNPP).
item on the day’s agenda was a visit to the plateau above the fishing
The next stop
was at the picturesque
A large crowd of several hundred people gathered at the Jamaatkhana, eager to narrate their problems and plight. Shri Amjad Borkar, a resident of the village and president of the Ratnagiri District Machhimar Kruti Samiti, who is normally a very quiet and reserved person, made an impassioned speech stating that Tabrez’s father had told him that he too would be prepared to lay down his life like Tabrez, but the Jaitapur nuclear project must be stopped. Narrating his visit to the site of Tarapur plant, Borkar asked what we should believe: the assurances of the government that fishing will not be affected, or the actual experience of our fisher community brothers and sisters at Tarapur whose livelihoods have been destroyed?
Yasmeen Bhosar, a woman gram panchayat member, challenged the NPCIL propaganda. They are fooling us, she said, and banning the entry of those who are telling us the truth. She asked the leaders to take steps to stop the construction work of the wall which has started.
received a resounding ovation when he stated that “these are the Left
who opposed the Congress in parliament on the nuclear deal issue
compromise. They were prepared to give up power, but not their
stated that people here have set aside all differences of religion,
political allegiance. They have forgotten the Hindu-Muslim and
differences: “Yeh sirf hakk ki baat hai” (it’s a matter of rights
said that fishing provides livelihood not only to thousands of Konkan
but also to an even larger number of workers on the boats who come from
Karnataka, Orissa and
Gowalkar, who was next to Tabrez when he was shot dead, narrated how
opened fire without any warning. “Jo bachha mar
compelled the meeting to adjourn briefly and people crammed into the
Jamaatkhana. Here they were addressed by the leaders of the delegation.
Dhairyasheel Patil of the PWP narrated how the struggle of the local
was able to successfully stop the huge Mukesh Ambani SEZ in the
Raigad district. He exhorted the residents to be firm and not be
a few persons accept compensation. D Raja stated that the Left parties
already raised the issue in parliament and would again raise it
the coming session in August. Prakash Karat stated that the issue of
is not only a local issue. It is a national issue. The Left parties had
express their solidarity with the local struggle. Similar struggles are
place at Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere. The Left will play its role in
a national resistance. The Left is opposed to all the projects based on
expensive and untested imported reactors. After the
The next stop was a visit to the site of the JNPP on the Madban Plateau. Due to prohibitory orders it was decided that only five persons --- Prakash Karat, D Raja, Tapan Sen, Dhairyasheel Patil and Pravin Gawhankar --- would go into the site. A large posse of police stood guard. Objections were taken by them to Gawhankar’s entry. However, after a brief discussion, the leaders along with Gawhankar were escorted by NPCIL officers and given a tour of the site.
Next was a
visit to the
The culmination of the visit was the public meeting at the Ratnagiri City Library Hall at 6 pm. It was the first public meeting in the last several years that was organised by the Left in the south Konkan districts. Only two days earlier, on July 10, activists of the Youth Congress and minister Narayan Rane’s “Swabhimaan Sena” had disrupted a daylong workshop organised at the same venue by the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, a coalition of groups opposing the JNPP. The Congress goons made a public announcement in the district papers that if the leaders of the KVPVS came to attend the Left parties’ public meeting they would not allow the meeting to take place.
However, their attempt to disrupt the meeting was effectively foiled by the strong mobilization of the Left. A large contingent of working people from Ratnagiri including fisher folk, youth and women from Nate, farmers, members of the BUCTU (teachers union), CITU members from the Ratnagiri Gas and Power Project, CPI(M) comrades from the neighbouring Kolhapur district led by state committee members Dr Subhash Jadhav and Chandrakant Yadav, as well as local citizens was significant in this effort. Leaders of the KVPVS like Ms Vaishali Patil, Dr Vivek Bhide and Amjadbhai Borkar were securely escorted into the hall by cordons of activists. The heavily outnumbered Congress goons shouted slogans and threw a few stones. But they were not allowed to enter the meeting premises and were later dispersed by the police.
The meeting was presided over by CPI(M) state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale and was addressed by Mahendra Singh, Kiran Moghe, Tapati Mukhopadhaya, Narayan Ghagare, Prakash Reddy and Pravin Gawhankar, along with Tapan Sen, D Raja and Prakash Karat.
LEFT TO TAKE THE
Ashok Dhawale said that the Left parties had already commenced to take the agitation beyond the confines of Ratnagiri district. On April 26, the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl disaster, Left parties had held demonstrations in several districts of Maharashtra. In March, CPI(M) MP Khagen Das and ex-MP Subhashini Ali had visited the area and Khagen Das raised the issue in parliament. Kiran Moghe said this meeting has shown that strong arm tactics will never be able to stop the spread of our movement. She commended the women for their large scale participation in the struggle. Mahendra Singh stated that those who think they can terrorise us into silence should understand that we will never let the martyrdom of Irfan and Tabrez go in vain. Narayan Ghagare in a speech laced with sarcasm and humour delivered in characteristic Konkani style and accent stated that he too is a Narayan from Konkan. Shri Narayan Rane must realize that if he attacks the Konkani people who are fighting for their rights and livelihood, his party’s victory in the last Lok Sabha election will be its last election victory in the Konkan. Prakash Reddy and Tapati Mukhopadhyaya both raised the important issue of the impact of the JNPP on the livelihoods of the fishing community and the world famous Ratnagiri alphonso mango horticulture. Pravin Gawhankar thanked the Left parties for their continued and consistent support. He said that from 2005 itself both the Left parties and the local residents have been consistently opposing the anti-national nuclear policy sell-out to multinationals on different platforms. Now we are coming together.
Tapan Sen stated that the CITU and other trade unions would mobilise their members to oppose the project which is anti-national and the result of political corruption. The strength of the working class would be rallied to support the agitation. Prakash Karat and D Raja reiterated and elaborated upon the points that they had made in their speeches at Nate. Prakash Karat made the important announcement that the Left parties would immediately take the initiative to form a broad-based national committee to take forward this struggle.
On July 13, Prakash Karat and D Raja addressed a crowded press conference at the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh. The large hall was so crammed with reporters of the print and electronic media that several had to wait outside. The public meeting at Ambedkar Bhavan at Dadar was also filled to capacity. Dr Bhalchandra Kango, state secretary of the CPI, presided over the meeting. Pravin Gawhankar spoke first. He thanked the Left parties for their consistent support and requested their backing for a protest dharna to be organised by the Janahit Sewa Samiti at New Delhi on August 9 with the slogan “Videshi Nuclear Projects, Quit India.” D Raja had just completed his speech when the news came in of the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, including one at Dadar Kabutarkhana nearby. Prakash Karat announced this shocking news, and the meeting adjourned immediately after condemning the terrorist attack and condoling the deaths of innocent citizens.