Maharashtra polls: Why Wadhwan and Varor villages in Palghar recorded zero turnout

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Maharashtra polls: Why Wadhwan and Varor villages in Palghar recorded zero turnout
In Palghar’s Wadwan and Varor, 0% voter turnout resulted in empty polling booths. (Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

Wadhwan and Varor villages in Maharashtra’s Palghar district recorded zero per cent turnout, resulting in empty polling booths. Over 1.5 lakh voters had called for a boycott in more than 10 villages to protest against the proposed Wadhwan port in the Arabian Sea, near their village. Overall, Maharashtra saw 63 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise, close to the 63.38 per cent turnout recorded in 2014.

The Wadhwan port, a proposed project of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Maharashtra Maritime Board, is being built as an extension to the existing ports in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. The project, however, is yet to get the Central government’s approval.

“The location is very favourable as there is an ease to get the ships to port due to the topography. The plan was that JNPT will helm the project with a 74 per cent stake in it, but we are also checking the possibility of a privately owned project,” an official from the maritime board said.

The villagers have contended that if the port was built there, it would spell the end to their livelihood. “Already, because of reckless development downstream, the sea has been pushed further in-land on our coastline. If there is a reclamation of 5,000 acre, our villages will go underwater eventually,” said Raghunath Patil, 55, a former sarpanch of Wadhwan village.

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The villagers have contended that if the port was built there, it would spell the end to their livelihood. (Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

Mukund Patil (38), a resident of the Wadhwan village, said villagers of Chinchoti, Wadhwan and Varol have been protesting against the project since 2015. “The government wants to send all the coal-bearing and oil-leaking ships to our side, so as to keep the urban waters clean,” he said.

In Maharashtra, the highest turn-out was reported in Karveer constituency in Kolhapur, at 83.20 per cent. The lowest turnout was recorded in south Mumbai’s upmarket Colaba area at 40.20 per cent. Maximum City Mumbai also saw a poor turnout, with only 44.74 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise.

Empty polling booth in Palghar district. (Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

The Satara Lok Sabha constituency, where bye-election was held due to resignation of NCP MP Udayanraje Bhosale, voter turnout was recorded at 60.75 per cent, an Election Commission official said.

Meanwhile, all the five major exit polls have predicted a return to office for Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, giving more than two-third seats for the BJP-Shiv Sena combine. The poll of polls gave 211 and 64 seats to the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and the Congress-NCP respectively.

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