A day after residents in Vadhavan formed a human chain to oppose the construction of the Vadhavan Port in Dahanu, angry locals protested against a survey being carried out by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) again on Thursday, amid heavy police deployment.
Vadhavan Bander Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti (VBVSS) that includes local residents, fisherfolk, farmers and tribals from Dahanu has been protesting against the proposed port over the last many years.
On Thursday protesters gathered near the beach in Vadhavan village chanting slogans of “Ekach jidduh, Vadhavan Bander radduh (Just one demand, cancel Vadhavan port)”. Vaibhav Vaze, secretary of the VBVSS, said over 3,000 people participated in the protest. “People came out to protest from Vadhavan, Dahanu and nearby villages including Chanchani and Varor,” said Vaze.
Consultants appointed by the JNPT to carry out a biodiversity survey for the proposed port — set to be India’s 13th major port to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 65,544.54 crore — were expected to arrive in Vadhavan on Wednesday and Thursday. The JNPT and the Maharashtra Maritime Board are development partners for the port project with 74 per cent and 26 per cent equity share respectively.
Sources said that in order to prevent a law and order problem in Vadhavan, over 150 police officers were deployed in the village to ensure the survey is carried out without incident. On Thursday, villagers protested in the presence of baton-wielding police officers in helmets making it a tense three hours in the morning in the village in Dahanu.
“The protest was in the morning and by 10 am everything was over. There is no tension now and the situation is under control,” said a police officer from the Vangaon police station.
Vaze, however, alleged that some protesters were manhandled by the police. “They (JNPT’s consultants) cannot come and collect samples for their survey in this manner. It is against the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority (DTEPA) — a special authority constituted pursuant to Supreme Court order in 1996 — directions. We will take legal action against this and we are preparing to move court,” said Vaze.
Bhushan Bhoir, an environmental activist from Palghar who participated in the protest on Thursday, said, “Dahanu is a rural and tribal-dominated area and the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 apply here. The Gram Panchayat of Vadhavan had resolved in 2014 that they will not allow this port project. To carry out a survey the Gram Panchayat and the DTEPA should have both been informed. So this survey was being carried out without two vital permissions,” said Bhoir.
On Wednesday JNPT officials had said that survey was conducted according to plan. They, however, remained unavailable for comment on Thursday.
Vaze said that a complaint was filed with the Vangaon Police Station against the “illegal survey” carried out by scientists from the National Institute of Oceanography and JNPT officials. JNPT officials remained.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines