Express India, February 1, 2009
Pune: Chavan says alternative site for the plant will be decided later
The verdict is out on the fate of Dow Chemicals R&D centre that was coming up at Chakan in Pune. The one-year struggle put up by villagers of Shinde and Vasuli against Dow Chemicals has paid off with Chief Minister Ashok Chavan saying the Dow project will no longer be based at its present site.
“We will not have the company at this particular site. Based on the government committee’s report, we would take the next decision about an alternative site. It has to be decided yet. The American representatives are upset about the issue. If political compulsions force us to give up the project entirely, then it could be Gujarat’s gain,” Chavan told The Indian Express on Saturday.
When asked whether the alternative site would be around Pune, he said it will have to be seen after the committee submits its report.
Principal Secretary, Environment, Valsa Nair said the committee would be ready with the report by the third week of February. The committee, headed by Justice (Retd) R J Sinkar, has IIT Mumbai scientist S K Gupta and Groundwater Survey and Development Authority senior officer S B Khandale as members. Nair said the committee has held review meetings and will be presenting the report with all its findings.
The villagers who put up a stiff opposition for over a year are the most jubiliant. “It was a struggle against injustice,” said former sarpanch of Shinde Shantaram Panman. Another villager Sunil Deukar said the warkaris’ support had helped.
However, Bandya Tatya Kharadkar, representative of the warkari sect who even went to jail for agitating against the company, said unless they saw the company move out physically from the present premises, they were not ready to believe anything. “ Unless the company moves out we are not willing to say anything,” he said.
Activist Vilas Sonawane said the struggle was not yet over. “Our campaign is Dow hatao, India bachao. We do not want it to come anywhere in the state or the country and we will continue with our agitation,” he said.
The Dow officials, when contacted, said they had received no notification yet. Roysten D’Mello, spokesperson of the company, said the company was yet to receive any news on this front. “We have not got any papers from the government and so we are unable to comment,” he said.