Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday announced that the government has decided to shift the controversial IIT project from Shel-Melauli village of Sattari taluka considering the strong sentiments of the villagers of the taluka, who have vehemently protested against the project.
The decision was taken after Sawant met at his official residence at Altinho representatives of village panchayats and zilla panchayat members of Sattari and Usgao along with Health Minister and Valpoi MLA Vishwajit Rane.
The elected representatives from Sattari, who were led by Rane, also submitted a representation to the Chief Minister.
The representation urged Sawant to shift the controversial IIT campus project out of Melauli.
Addressing media persons after the meeting, which was also attended by state BJP president Sadanand Shet Tanawade and other party functionaries, the Chief Minister said the government decided to shift the project from Shel-Melauli on the request of the elected representatives of Sattari and factoring in the villagers’ sentiments.
“My government always listens to the people,” he maintained.
Sawant denied that there was vested interest in identifying the tract of land in Melauli for setting up the IIT campus.
“Our objective was to develop Sattari taluka. However, certain sections of the people, including some NGOs, were against the project and tried to misguide the villagers vis-à-vis the project,” the Chief Minister remarked.
He stated that the government had to scrap the project from Melauli, as people had not been convinced of the benefits of the project even after they were informed and explained.
Sawant told media persons that the government will soon try to identify another site for the project at some other part of the state.
The Chief Minister also denied that a police officer stamped on a woman protestor during the violent protest at Melauli on January 6.
“I have seen the video. He did not stamp on the woman. Several women police constables were attacked by the villagers,” he claimed.
When asked about the cases filed against the villagers, the Chief Minister said the cases will be withdrawn following due procedure.
On granting land ownership, as demanded by the people of Sattari, the Chief Minister did not say anything.
It is pertinent to note here that that Sattari villagers have declared that their agitation will continue until they get land ownership.