Officials stunned by Minister’s remark, say he should make it public
Minister for Fisheries, and Science and Technology Anand Asnotikar on Wednesday warned the officials of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) that he would make the issue of release of radioactive waste material of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Station into the Kali river a national issue if they failed to provide jobs to local people.
The remark of the Minister stunned officials of the State government and the NPCIL who were present at the meeting.
Mr. Asnotikar had arranged the meeting of members of families who lost their land to the Kaiga project with officials in connection with providing them jobs. H.N. Bhat, State Director of Kaiga Generation Station, was present.
John D’Souza, a land loser, said that he had been trying for a job in NPCIL for the last 12 years. He said that he contacted NPCIL authorities for this and it yielded no result. His land was acquired to build a health centre by NPCIL, with a promise of a job. But NPCIL officials failed to keep their promise, he alleged. He said that his family would sleep near the gate of the health centre if he was not given a job.
Mr. Asnotikar asked Mr. Bhat to fulfil the demands of 21 families, who were waiting for jobs for decades.
He said that the meeting was called because local gram panchayat president Chandrashekhar Bandekar had requested to convene a meeting of the officials to solve the problem of the people.
He threatened to expose the pollution by the Kaiga nuclear plants if the local people were not given jobs. He said he would organise the fishermen against NPCIL and pollution issue was enough to galvanise the public against NPCIL.
‘Can’t promise jobs’
Reacting to this, Mr. Bhat said that policy decisions were taken by the Centre and he was not the competent authority to promise jobs.
He said that he would forward the grievances to the government for the final decision.
Many present at the meeting wondered whether the Minister had any authentic information about the pollution in the river caused by the Kaiga nuclear plants.
An official said as a Minister, Mr. Asnotikar would not have made such a remark without knowing something about radiation or pollution by the nuclear reactor. “Why did he keep it a secret all these days and now blackmail the NPCIL officials by saying that he would launch agitation?” he said.
Mr. Asnotikar asked the people of Kaiga to approach him instead of approaching his political rivals to solve the problem of getting jobs in Kaiga nuclear station.
Assistant Commissioner Pushpalatha and tahsildar Said Mulla were present.