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Fishermen Organise “Channel Bandh” To Disrupt Ships’ Movement At JNPT

Demand The Rehabilitation Of Project-Affected Pending Since 36 Years

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Raju Vernekar
I am a mumbai based journalist having worked with many daily newspapers.

INDIA.Mumbai: The JNPT-project-affected people, basically fishermen, of erstwhile Sheva village in Uran taluka of Raigad district,in Maharashtra lined up in nearly 100 fishing boats, in the Arabian sea pressing for their demands including immediate rehabilitation, on Friday.

Read also: Whale Shark Rescue Off Gujarat Coast

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The fishermen formed a chain into the sea to prevent the movement of incoming and outgoing ships at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT). Given the agitation, the police landed at Hanuman Koliwada, the transit camp created 13 yrs ago for the Sheva village people, and took three activists of the “Gramsudharna Mandal” (Village Reforms Committee) into custody. Besides about 500 women activists were taken to JNPT community hall, Ramesh Koli, one of the leaders told the “Transcontinental Times”. “we will peacefully continue our agitation since the matter is pending for the last 36 years” he added.

“In all 256 families were displaced from Sheva Village and now they have grown to about 600 families. None of the rehabilitation measures as per even the government norms have been implemented. As per the norms, JNPT is supposed to train the project-hit people and give them jobs, however, it was not done. Fed up with this attitude, we are left with no alternative but to launch an agitation,” Koli said.

Background

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The JNPT had acquired 16.88 hectares in Sheva Village between 1984-1989 to set up the port equipped with all modern facilities. The port was established on May 26, 1989, and was inaugurated by former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi.

The JNPT had paid compensation for the entire land acquired to the Maharashtra Government. But the government rehabilitated villagers merely on two hectares of land located at Bokadvira (near New Sheva) and Bori Pakhadi (near Hanuman Koliwada). With this discontent began among the villagers. In 1995-1996 there was a major termite attack on the village in which the entire village was badly affected. To give relief to the villagers, the JNPT carried out termite treatment for the entire village.

Present status

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After the issue was raised in the Maharashtra State legislature, a 10 member legislative committee was set up. The committee visited the Hanuman Koliwada and asked the Government to identify the land for second rehabilitation. Since the Government could not find a suitable site, the JNPT agreed to part with its additional 6 hectares of land located near village Funde for the rehabilitation of the villagers. The proposal was communicated to the legislative committee in a meeting held on June 25, 2019. This was also communicated to the Sarpanch of the Hanuman Koliwada on August 18, 2000, by the JNPT.

The “Gramsudharna Mandal” (Village Reforms Committee) by its letter dated December 28, 2020, threatened to launch the “Channel Bandh” agitation from January 21, 2021, onwards. As such a meeting was called by JNPT Chairman urging the villagers to withdraw their agitation. Subsequently, at the intervention of the Raigad collector and police, the villagers deferred their agitation.

Raigad Collector wrote to JNPT on February 05, 2021, to deposit Rs 5.69 crore towards the cost of rehabilitation of villages (as agreed by the Union Ministry of Shipping on March 17, 2006). Accordingly, JNPT deposited the amount through RTGS with Raigad Collector on February 16, 2021. As suggested by Raigad collector, because of the inflation in the last 14 years, the JNPT also agreed to pay additional Rs 8.95 crore towards the cost of rehabilitation.

Now the JNPT by its letter dated February 17, 2021, to the Union Shipping secretary, has sought approval to pay the amount of additional compensation of Rs 8.95 crore and handover its 6 hectares land near village Funde, to the Raigad collector.

However, Ramesh Koli said that the authorities will continue to bide time and the rehabilitation will be delayed. The matter has been hanging fire for the last 36 years. “As such we will continue with our agitation till the time the dispute is finally resolved”.

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