India: 4,500 anti-nuclear farmers walk out of public hearing

Villagers shout slogans after boycotting a public hearing for a proposed nuclear plant, near Bhavnagar, Gujarat, on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

Villagers shout slogans after boycotting a public hearing for a proposed nuclear plant, near Bhavnagar, Gujarat, on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Ajit Solanki

[The proposed nuclear power plant is slated to be constructed by Westinghouse Corporation of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, by contract with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.  To prevent yet another Bhopal and another Chernobyl and Fukishima, farmers whose lands are in the path of the proposed nuclear plant are acting to stop the project, its nuclear poison and its mass displacement. — Frontlines ed.]

The Times of India, March 5, 2013

RAJKOT: Thousands of farmers walked out from a public hearing in Nana Navagam organized by Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for the proposed 6000 MW nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district.  The hearing was held on behalf of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) that will build the plant. The public hearing was held to discuss the environment impact assessment of the proposed plant prepared by Engineers India Limited (EIL).  The nuclear plant is expected to have six light-water reactors. The public hearing was attended by Bhavnagar collector V P Patel along with officials of GPCB and NPCIL.As soon as the NPCIL officials started their project presentation, about 4,500 farmers from around 28 villages started protesting and demanded they be heard first. “When they refused to address our queries first, all the farmers walked out in protest,” a resident of Jasapara village Khengarsinh Gohil said. The farmers said they will not allow the nuclear power plant to come up here in the area.Environment activist Krishnakant said the hearing was conducted in an illegal manner and the issues raised by farmers were not heard.However, the GPCB officials claimed that the public hearing went off peacefully with some peaceful protest by farmers. “We have received 47 representations from people on the proposed plant,” GPCB’s regional officer A V Shah said.The plant is proposed to be built on more than 770 hectares of Jasparam Mandva and Khadpar villages. Farmers and anti nuclear activists are opposing the plant raising fears of destruction of fertile land and threats of radiation.—————————————-

Live Mint, 5 March 2013

Ahmedabad: “We will not give away our fertile land for the nuclear project. What will we do without our land? Where will we go?” asks Shaktisinh Gohil, village head and a farmer of Jasapara village in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat where state-run Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) plans to build a 6,000 megawatts (MW) nuclear power plant—the first after India and the US signed the civil nuclear agreement in 2008.
Gohil, who owns a mango orchard in the area known for its Sosiya variety, is among the thousands of villagers who walked out of the environmental public hearing on Tuesday, called by the district collectorate and the Gujarat State Pollution Control Board (GPCB).
In 2012, US-based Westinghouse Electric Co. Llc and NPCIL signed an agreement for the construction work. The project, to be done in three stages, is expected to be completed by 2022-23.
Gohil says they had rejected the proposal of parting with their land a few years ago.
Since 2009, when the Indian government gave an in-principle approval to the Rs.50,000 crore Mithivirdi nuclear project, anti-nuclear activists and scientists have been distributing pamphlets and showing films on what happened at nuclear plants in Russia’s Chernobyl and Fukushima in Japan.
Mithivirdi was chosen as a preferred site by NPCIL after consulting the state government, which decided to scrap its proposed port project at the same location.
Gohil alleges that the Tuesday hearing was on the basis of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) by Engineers India Ltd, which did not have the necessary accreditation.
Even GPCB raised this issue about a month ago and had sought a clarification from NPCIL, according to a senior state government official.
An NPCIL executive, who oversees the Mithivirdi project, said Gohil’s fears were misplaced.
“No agency in India is accredited to assess nuclear power projects by National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET). EIL had applied (to NABET) for accredition in 2010. NABET has given permission to EIL to carry out EIA. Besides, all NPCIL’s projects are assessed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) as far as radioactive emissions is concerned,” he said on condition of anonymity.
NPCIL plans to acquire 777ha of land to build a 1,000MW nuclear project, mainly covering Jasapara and two other nearby villages. NPCIL also proposes to acquire another 100ha to build a township for its employees.
“We have maintained in our environment study that 80% of the land to be acquired is agricultural land and we are ready to pay compensation for it, but the villagers are not ready to listen. They insist that we take the project elsewhere,” said the official.
As per the EIA, the project is not anticipated to have any significant environmental impact on local flora, fauna or human activities.
The report details the planned systems to manage gaseous, liquid and solid radioactive wastes and keep discharges below the required limits in normal operation as well as the passive safety design and engineered safety features of the plant.
The project would be “environmentally benign and sustainable” and would provide “much-needed electricity with minimal environmental impact”, it says.
A.V. Shah, regional officer of Bhavnagar GPCB, said that the hearing, attended by 4,000 people, was completed and the findings would be submitted to the ministry of forest and environment department.
“We will submit everything to the ministry, including people’s concerns… We have received 47 written representations from various stake holders in the project,” Shah said.
Krishnakant Chauhan of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, a non-profit working on environment issues in Gujarat, said the public hearing committee did not give a chance to the villagers to raise their concerns.
“Asia’s largest ship recycling yards at Alang, hardly 10km from the nuclear site, will also be affected if this nuclear project comes up,” he said.
An official at the Gujarat Maritime Board, the state regulator for ports, said there have been talks in the past of re-location of a part of Alang shipyard as it was perceived to be in the prescribed danger limit of a proposed plant. However, no concrete plan has come up so far.
The NPCIL official maintained that Alang will not be affected by the nuclear project.

One thought on “India: 4,500 anti-nuclear farmers walk out of public hearing

  1. Pingback: Press Release- Gujarat Stop the bulldozer of progress, now! | kracktivist

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