Lauri Myllyvirta, the Finnish Greenpeace campaigner who visited the Jaitapur nuclear power project area in Ratnagiri district last year, has denied that he showed any films or other material like photos to the local people agitating against the project.

In an email interview from Indonesia, Mr. Myllyvirta said these claims were absurd. He visited the area on November 20, 2010 and left the next day.

On Monday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan reiterated that there was a Finnish Greenpeace person who was showing films to local people in Jaitapur and misleading them about earthquakes in the region and also that 9,000 people were killed.

However, Mr. Myllyvirta said that during the visit there was no public gathering where speeches or presentations would have been held. “I cannot even figure out where this story has originated,” he said.

“I am sure the people would not have needed a Finn to fly in to find out about an earthquake that happened 200 km away. Nor did I discuss the seismic risks of the area with the villagers, who certainly are aware of them, having lived in the area for all their life. The locals are fully capable of forming their own opinion on their environment and livelihood,” he said.

He said that he arrived in the afternoon and left very early the next morning. All conversations between Greenpeace activists and the villagers took place in Hindi and Marathi and he was there just to observe, he explained.

“Intentional distraction”

He also alleged that this whole thing was an intentional distraction from the fact that there was a very strong and inspiring local movement against the imported EPR reactors proposed for Jaitapur. He had studied the EPR which was being built in Finland and had some expertise in the subject. His visit to India was in connection with the project.

Pravin Gavankar from the Janhit Seva Samiti, Madban, where the proposed nuclear project is coming up, said that no one had shown them any films on earthquakes. He also could not recall any European visitor to the area.

When Mr. Chavan addressed a public meeting in the project area on February 26, supporters of Industries Minister Narayan Rane told the media that Greenpeace had misled people by putting out false stories on its website that there was an earthquake in Jaitapur and it had killed many people. However, the website did not carry any such reports.