Struggle against Jaitapur Nuclear Power plant

Nuclear establishment officials shy away from answering the genuine questions!

More than 1000 people had jam packed the Veer Sawarkar Sabhagruh in Dadar, Mumbai, on 29th November’11 even before the scheduled start of the meeting. Almost a hundred people had travelled from far off Madban (near Jaitapur, where the government is trying to build the nuclear plant).

Nuclear establishment officials shy away from answering the genuine questions!

More than 1000 people had jam packed the Veer Sawarkar Sabhagruh in Dadar, Mumbai, on 29th November’11 even before the scheduled start of the meeting. Almost a hundred people had travelled from far off Madban (near Jaitapur, where the government is trying to build the nuclear plant). More than 50 had come all the way from Tarapur for the meeting. A large number of people from press including MEL correspondent and media were also present in the hall. This excitement was due to the fact that for the first time an open debate was to be conducted on the issue of Nuclear power between its proponents and opponents. On the one hand was the pro Nuclear power team lead by Dr.Kakodkar, Dr. Srikumar Bannerjee ( Chairman Atomic Energy Commission of India ), Shri.Shashikant Dharne ( executive director Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.) and others, and on the other hand was the anti Nuclear power team represented by Dr.Moteiro, Dr.Gadekar ( both renowned Physicists), Dr.Mahesh Shindikar (an eminent ecologist), and Shri Jitendra Raul (leader of Tarapur Nuclear Plant affected people).

People had gathered in such large numbers with an anticipation that they would get genuine replies and answers from the pro-nuclear Government establishment to their many questions and concerns about nuclear power. But finally it turned out to be big farce since the pro nuclear speakers desisted from answering any major concerns raised by those opposing Nuclear Power. What is the plan of the establishment regarding the nuclear waste which will be generated from the proposed Jaitapur NPP (Nuclear Power Plant)? If there is a plan why is it not being tabled in front of the people? If there is a plan why it is not mentioned in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report? How come the voluminous EIA report has only one page on impact on human beings? When the actual costs of all past Nuclear power projects finally amounted to many times more than the initial estimates, then why should people believe that the costs projected for Jaitapur power plant would not inflate many times more? Why is the government ignoring the fact that Jaitapur area is in earthquake zone 3, though the government appointed expert committee itself has recommended that no nuclear power plants should be located in higher than zone 2 areas? Why are the test reports of employees working in Nuclear power plants kept confidential? Areva, the French company that will be putting up the Jaitapur project does not have good track record with thousands of defects found in its design; what is the government doing about it? If the probability of Nuclear disaster is low then why are the suppliers shying away from taking up the entire liability and why then are the insurance companies charging such high premium? None of the pro Nuclear power presenters answered any of these crucial questions, but instead went ahead with the usual government propaganda. This agitated the audience and many times Justice Shah conducting the so called debate intervened to request the angry audience to allow the speakers to speak. When one of the pro nuclear presenters expressed that the ill effects of Nuclear Power plants are not well established, Dr.countered it by showing a large number of photo slides of people around Jadugoda mines severely affected by even the low level radiation.

The audience could not hold back its anger when the pro-nuclear power presenters started telling lies about how the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) takes all the care of the employees working in Nuclear Power Plants. People from Tarapur in particular got very upset and they intervened from the audience stating how the hundreds of contract workers working in Tarapur Power plant are suffering from radiation and NPCIL just throws them out of job if they get higher exposure. They also mentioned how people in many villages around Tarapur NPP will have to first run towards the plant in case of disaster there, since they do not have any other escape route! They demanded explanation about this from the NPCIL officials who of course did not give any reply. Then the Tarapur residents requested that a joint investigation by the eminent officials of NPCIL on the dais, along with 2 MPs, 2 MLAs and local residents should be done as regards the effect of radiation on the residents of Tarapur and contract employees of the Tarapur power plant. This request was also of course ignored completely. This arrogant attitude really angered the audience. An ex-MP of the Tarapur region explained how the residents who sacrificed for the Tarapur NPP have been ignored completely and have to face water and electricity shortage even after 45 years of the project. The NPCIL top brass reply was “we are not responsible for that.” The audience reaction was an obvious question. “Then what is your responsibility? Just to lie!“

The overall experience highlights the fact that the Government of India is hiding security, safety, financial, human rights and scientific issues as regards Nuclear Power plants. This experience is similar to the experience of people all over India fighting against Nuclear Power plants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *