Jaitapur – awareness is spreading

Thanks to our webmaster who sent a link to an article by excellent journalist Praful Bidwai.

Writing from another country threatened by proposals to build new nuclear plants in areas already nuclear-polluted, we understand the pressure from nuclear industry which needs new reactor orders and the problems with the ‘new generation’ under construction.

As Bidwai notes, “Europe’s first reactor after Chernobyl (1986) is in serious trouble in Finland – 42 months behind schedule, 90% over budget, and in bitter litigation . . . Finnish, British and French regulators have raised 3,000 safety issues including control, emergency-cooling and safe shutdown systems.”

He reports that India is planning a huge expansion of its nuclear capacity by 2020 , citing another assault on Ratnagirii, whose fertile mango-growing land was covered in concrete by the disastrous Enron project, so stoutly opposed by CHS-Sachetan and many others.

Bidwai explains that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has forcibly acquired 2,300 acres under a colonial law, ignoring protests. The NCPIL, “is planning to install six 1,650-MW reactors here, at Jaitapur – a small port in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district – based on the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design of the French company Areva – the very same that’s in trouble in Finland.”

Once again the land suffers . . .

Picture of the site by SafepowerIndia

Bidwai: “The first victim of this will be an extraordinarily precious ecosystem in the Konkan region of the mountain range that runs along India’s west coast. This is one of the world’s biodiversity “hotspots” and home to 6,000 species of flowering plants, mammals, birds and amphibians, including 325 threatened ones. It is the source of two major rivers. Botanists say it’s India’s richest area for endemic plants. With its magical combination of virgin rainforests, mountains and sea, it puts Goa in the shade.”

and the people . . .

The  land of  2,275 families was forcibly acquired but 95% have refused to collect compensation, including one job per family. When Nicolas Sarkozy visited India to sell EPRs, Jaitapur saw the biggest demonstration against him.

A Deccan Herald editorial reported in December that, “There is sufficient reason for the government to reconsider its decision to set up a nuclear power park at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. A social impact assessment conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) confirms what experts and activists have been saying for a while: the proposed nuclear power park will have “huge negative impact on social and environment development.” The most worrying risk is that Jaitapur lies in a high to moderate severity earthquake zone. Should an earthquake strike the nuclear plants, the destruction caused will be horrific.

As usual, in India, active democratic protest is at work: Gandhian non-cooperation and civil disobedience. A picture of one of the marches has been posted by Shahbaz Ahmed Kazi in order to publicise the protest:

“Elected councillors from 10 villages have resigned. People boycotted a 18 January public hearing in Mumbai convened to clear “misconceptions” about nuclear power. They refused to hoist the national flag, as is traditionally done, on Republic Day (26 January). They have decided not to sell food to officials. When teachers were ordered to teach pupils about the safety of nuclear reactors, parents withdrew children from school for a week.”

Read about the ‘horrendous lie’ – an allegation that the area is barren – and more here.

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