KARWAR: Villagers living within five km radius of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Project look determined to intensify their agitation demanding their rehabilitation.
Presently, five members from each of the six villages of Hartuga, Balemane, Kuchegar, Balse, Haroor and Sulgeri participated in the indefinite strike launched in front of the DC’s office.
“Probably, we would not have awakened to the dangers of a nuclear power project, had there not been a nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan, said Shamnath Naik, a gram panchayat member, leading the agitation. The villagers are gripped with fear of radiation now, he added.
According to Naik, it is very difficult to evacuate the people of Balemane and Sulgeri villages in quick time in case of a disaster, since they don’t have a motorable road. They have to walk eight km to reach the state highway and get a bus to Karwar, Manjunath Mayekar from Sulgeri village points out.
He says, the paddy yield in his 11 acres has reduced considerably. The villagers were under the belief that this happened due to vagaries of nature. But now they seem to have realised that it was due to the radiation from the power project.
“We had been collecting forest produce like goose berry and wild mango from nearby forests to earn additional income. Now they have become harder to find in the forest,” he said. Sanjay Desai from Hartuga asserts that the yield in his areca garden in the village has reduced drastically.
Desai, a driver, said there are many diploma holders and ITI trained people in these villages, but, none of them have got a job in the power project. About 90 villagers are employed as drivers on a contract basis by the transport contractors of Kaiga project.
They get paltry Rs 7,800 for working round the clock for 20 days. The villagers have not got anything apart from this, he says.
The rehabilitation committee in one of its meeting held in 1996, had resolved that the people of these six villages should be rehabilitated. Even former project director, Paramahamsa Tiwari, said the area within five km radius of the project was a sterilised zone and no development activity was possible in these villages.