Mumbai: On the eve of French President Nicholas Sarkozy`s visit, the Shiv Sena on Sunday threatened to oppose the 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear project (JNPP), to be set up in Maharashtra`s Ratnagiri in collaboration with France`s Areva group, to protest the treatment of local protesters.
The party`s executive president Uddhav Thackeray said that the Shiv Sena would oppose the project tooth and nail if the government attempted to crush the voice of the "sons of the soil" who are on a warpath against the project.
Thackeray also strongly condemned the caning of scores of protesters and over 650 arrests of villagers at the project site, Madhaban village in this district, Saturday, which observed a shutdown against the JNPP.
Comparing the police action to "Mughal reign", Thackeray warned that the Shiv Sena would not tolerate use of such force by the authorities.
"The government should not force such a project by breaking the heads of the sons of the soil whose lives depend on the coastal produce. We shall respect their sentiments and do whatever is required to protect the local peoples` interests," he declared.
The development comes just 48 hours prior to the arrival of French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Mumbai Tuesday. During a brief, five-hour visit, Sarkozy will participate in a 26/11 commemoration ceremony at Hotel Oberoi and address a business meeting at the Taj Hotel before flying back to Paris.
Thackeray also termed Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh`s clearance for JNPP as mute "surrender", and contended that the "poisonous and dangerous" project could pose a health hazard to the local people, impact water resources, cattle and agriculture in the region.
Last week, the central government granted conditional clearance to JNPP and admitting that "weighty strategic and economic reasons" were the reasons leading to the project clearance in 80 days.
Thackeray also referred to expert view of former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board chairman A. Gopalakrishnan two days ago, urging a halt to the mega-project until the scientific community had greater clarity on waste disposal and environmental safety.