Protest initiation of projects without consultation with locals

A people’s hearing on nuclear energy held in the Capital on Wednesday criticised the Government’s nuclear energy policy and demanded that repression of people’s movements struggling against nuclear energy projects be stopped with immediate effect.

Residents belonging to Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu, Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Fatehabad in Haryana, Haripur in West Bengal, Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, and Rawatbhata and Banswara in Rajasthan joined activists associated with the struggle in these parts in condemning the Indian Government and political parties of initiating projects without consulting the local populace or taking their consent. They demanded transparency and alleged that environmental norms were flouted blatantly under the garb of secrecy that the Central Department of Atomic Energy had imposed.

Xavieramma and Melred, residents of Koodankulam, demanded revocation of all cases against protesters unconditionally and lifting of Section 144. They also alleged assault at the hands of police and certain political parties.

A protester against the Fatehabad plant alleged that the public hearing held recently was a farce and that Gorakhpur village residents had resolved not to hand over land for the project. Contract workers affected by the tritium radiation leak at the Rawatbhata power station alleged that they were the worst affected by the leaks and their wages were very low despite the risky work they undertook. Villagers from Chutka said they would resist the acquisition of their land.

Members of the jury were social activist Aruna Roy, former Navy Chief Admiral (Retd.) L. Ramdas and K. S. Subramanian.

Ms. Roy spoke about her visit to Koodankulam and about false information about the movement against the nuclear plant that the administration and the police were spreading. She termed the allegation of foreign funding to the protesters as “baseless”. She also called on people living in neighbouring Sri Lanka and Kerala to join in and offer support to the Koodankulam residents in their struggle against the plant as any disaster would equally affect their coasts too.

S. P. Udayakumar, leader of the Koodankulam agitation, spoke at the public hearing through a video-conferencing facility. He alleged that no public hearing was conducted at Koodankulam, no plans for disaster management training of local residents were made, and that the discharge of effluents at a permissible temperature of up to 45 degrees Celsius was fraught with dangers for aquatic life and human beings. Dr. Udayakumar called on the Government to invest more in alternate and renewable energy instead. He alleged that the Indian Government was peddling a “dangerous technology” like nuclear energy to benefit foreign nuclear power companies.

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