MUMBAI : On Saturday afternoon, there was high drama when a group of villagers from Beloshi in Wada, Palghar district, opposed the laying of pipeline by the Reliance Gas Pipeline Limited (RGPL). Around 15 people, including 7 women were arrested by the Wada police for obstructing government and the RGPL work. The RGPL were given full police protection on orders of the Palghar District Collector for the project but the locals were agitated and did not allow the RGPL to lay the pipeline. However, after the arrest, the pipeline was laid. Around 25 more accused are absconding said Wada police. 

The RGPL is laying a nearly Rs 1,500 crore ethane gas  486 km long pipeline from Dahej in Gujarat  to Nagothane in Maharashtra, of which 230 km will pass through Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts, and in Gujarat, 68 kms will pass across Bharuch, 84 kms Surat, 41 kms from Navsari and 63 kms from Valsad. The tribal land owners in Wada, Palghar district allege that the private gas player did not take the villagers into confidence of the project ,during its planning stage  andhence they are opposing the project, nor they were briefed about the project, said Machindra Agiwale, a resident of Wada. There is no clarity on the compensation to be given to the villagers and the tribals who will be loosing their farmland for the gas project, he said and around 26 kms will pass through the eco fragile Dahanu taluka in Palghar district.

Yogesh Chavan, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Palghar who led the police said we are acting on the orders of Dr Prashant Narnaware, Palghar District Collector who had requested police protection for the RGPL who were to cover the pipeline with mud, as the pipeline contained ethane gas which is inflammable and covering the pipeline was important, as there would have been destruction by way of fire,said Chavan. At Beloshi, when the RGPL people were covering the pipeline with mud, the locals stopped the work, and hence we had to step in so as to prevent a law and order problem,said Chavan. We have arrested 13 accused including 7 women under the amended Section 353 (obstructing government work) of the IPC and also Section 15 (a) of the Petroleum and Minerals Pipeline Act,1962 and will be produced before the Palghar court on Sunday,said Chavan. 

However, relatives of the accused told that the police mercilessly beaten them up and forcibly put in the police vehicles and taken to the police station where they were arrested.  We are demanding an inquiry into the entire incident, as the relatives have video shot the entire incident as evidence, which clearly showed the police beating the accused and then hauling them to the police station where they were arrested,said the relative.