Activists and villagers affected by the Jaitapur nuclear power project will boycott the Maharashtra government's meeting, to be held here on Tuesday to clear misconceptions over nuclear energy.

Experts from the nuclear energy establishment, agricultural universities and environment are expected to have an open house with the affected people, the media and elected representatives on the controversial project. Official sources said Srikumar Banerjee, chairperson, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Anil Kakodkar, and others will address the fears over nuclear energy.

However, the Janhit Seva Samiti, headed by Pravin Gavankar from Madban village, the project site; the Konkan Bachao Samiti (KBS); the Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Samiti; the Maharashtra Machhimar Kruti Samiti; and the Ratnagiri Zilla Jagruk Manch have submitted a letter to the Chief Minister's office on Monday, saying that the atmosphere is not conducive to such a discussion.

“Risky and expensive”

Adwait Pednekar from the KBS said that it was decided not to take part in the meeting since the government had been saying that it wanted to clear misconceptions at the local level about the project. That was not true, he pointed out, saying that people and the activists had studied all the aspects of the project based on scientific evidence and available facts in the public domain and had come to the conclusion that they wanted to oppose nuclear energy plants. “Nuclear energy is expensive, risky and puts future generations in peril,” he said.

The people denied they had misconceptions about nuclear energy. The KBS and others had held discussions with nuclear energy experts and these had only ratified their opinion and objections about the project, the letter said. There is no information on the site selection process or the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)'s process on design evaluation, safety and security of the project, and radioactive emissions and their effect on the environment, people and marine life from the time the plant was operationalised till the decommissioning period.

Even information on the power tariff was not in the public domain, the letter said. Unless some fresh information on these lines is available, people feel there is no point in holding a discussion. More importantly, they did not feel the atmosphere was conducive to any discussion since there was police repression in the area and activists had attempt-to-murder and other serious charges slapped on them. All these charges must be withdrawn along with prohibitory orders if the government wanted a free and fair discussion, it was submitted.