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Why We Oppose the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project

A Letter to the Chief Minister by social activists in Maharashtra

18 January 2011

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Janahit Seva Samiti, Madban
- Reg. No.: Maharashtra (3456) / Ratnagiri, Dt. 10.08.2007
- Reg. No.: F 3444
- At Post: Madban, Tal.: Rajapur, Dist.: Ratnagiri [India]

January 17, 2011

To,
- Mr. Prithviraj Chavan
- Hon’ble Chief Minister
- State of Maharashtra
- Mantralaya
- Mumbai 400 032

Re: Decision to Abstain from Attending the Meeting Called by you on January 18, 2011 – Our Position

Dear Sir,

The newspapers have reported that you have called a meeting on 18th January 2011 to address the ‘misconceptions’ and ‘apprehensions’ in the minds of the local residents. We wish to clarify at the outset that ever since the land acquisition process commenced in 2006 we have deeply studied the issues relating to the nuclear power project and our opposition to the project is firmly anchored in these scientific studies.

In the past four years we have carefully read the writings of Dr. Kakodkar, S.K. Jain, Dr. Ravindra Kale and other proponents of the project. We have held discussions with NPCIL and AEC. We have discussed with nuclear scientists Dr. Surendra Gadekar and Dr. Sanghamitra Gadekar. We have studied the writings of nuclear experts Zia Mian, Elliot, Solomon, Flavin and Dr. Helen Caldicott, the discussions in ’Anuvivek’ by Dr. Dilip Kulkarni , and ’Anuurja: Bhram, Vastav aani Paryaya’, by Dr. Sulabha Brahme, and the writings of many other authors in the media before arriving at our conclusions. On the basis of all these materials we have arrived at the conclusion that Nuclear Energy is an unaffordable and unacceptable option whose costs far outweigh its benefits. Nuclear power has inherent safety, security and large scale environmental risks including extremely long term risks. It is extremely costly when all the costs are calculated.
Due to the high cost and radioactive risk new nuclear plant construction has been halted in the US and most of Europe. Public opposition to nuclear power in Europe and the US has also been growing. This is why the western countries are trying to sell their reactors to India, China and S. Korea.

Despite years of research, there is no satisfactory technology even today for eliminating the high level radioactivity produced by nuclear reactors. There is no geological repository in existence anywhere in the world which can reliably and safely confine and contain these high level nuclear by-products for the enormous time period necessary to reduce the radioactivity to acceptable levels. Till today there is no scientific answer to the problem of disposal of nuclear waste and radioactive by-products of nuclear reactors.

Despite precautions numerous smaller scale accidents and incidents resulting in radioactive release have occurred in NPPs. The recent incident at Kaiga is just one example. Due to the possibility of accidents or incidents with extremely widespread damage the western power plant suppliers are demanding exemption from civil liability for the consequences of nuclear incidents.

Nuclear power is neither cheap, nor clean, nor safe. The irreversible long term damage from radioactivity will be a real risk for thousands of years. Therefore we have come to the firm conclusion that we cannot allow a nuclear power project at Madban/Jaitapur.

All four gram panchayats in the area have used their authority under the 73rd amendment to pass unanimous resolutions against the proposed JNPP. At the public hearing on May 16th 2010 objections were forcefully articulated by scientific experts. We along with the Konkan Bachao Samiti have had detailed discussions with the Minister of Environment and Forests, and technical experts of the NPCIL, NEERI and the AEC. These discussions have only confirmed and reinforced our conclusion that nuclear power is unaffordable, unacceptable, and fails a scientific cost-benefit analysis test.

Till today there has been no disclosure in the public domain about the capital costs of the project, nor the electricity tariff, which can be the basis of study and scrutiny. Most important till today there has been no consideration, leave alone approval of the design, operational safety, security and environmental risks of the project, its likely impact on the ecology and the livelihoods of the area by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, and other authorities. The project is not shown on any development plan for Ratnagiri. In these circumstances we have decided not to participate in the proposed meeting on the 18th January 2011.

In addition to our fundamental opposition to nuclear power on the above grounds we have specific objections to the site selection. The Madban plateau is continuously experiencing numerous seismic tremors. Cracks have developed in several places. Water availability is the only criterion which is satisfied according to the criteria of the Vengurlekar Committee. The project will be in substantial violation of the CRZ restrictions, though technically exempted. While selecting this sensitive plateau scientific realities appear to have been ignored. The environmental consequences on the Konkan region of the network of high tension transmission towers needed to evacuate 10,000 MW of power have also not been considered.

Most importantly, the Madban plateau is an unique biodiversity ecological hot-spot, which is has to be preserved as a global natural treasure. “To describe this ecological treasure as a barren plateau is unscientific and a blatant lie, which however is digested by muddleheaded experts from Mumbai- and Delhi”- in these terms Dr. Madhav Gadgil has expressed his criticisms in an article which has appeared in Sakal 12th Nov 2010. The BNHS has also in its report stated that the JNPP will have an adverse impact on the biodiversity and the marine life due to the hot water discharges. The adverse impact on the marine life has also been acknowledged by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests Mr. Jairam Ramesh.

The construction of the jetty for building the JNPP will destroy the mangrove forests in and around the creeks. This will destroy the fish breeding grounds and reduce the fish populations. The passage of large sea vessels will destroy marine ecology. The daily intake of 5200 crore litres of water by the project will adversely impact on fish resources. The discharge of the same at a higher temperature will damage the prawn, mollusc and fish resources. There will be a 500 meter no fishing zone all around the project. Security requirements against possible terrorist attacks for the project will place further restrictions on the movement of boats and fishing vessels. All this will have severe adverse impact on the fishing communities in and around the project. There are nearly 7500 persons whose livelihood and survival directly depends on fishing will thus be immediately adversely affected even destroyed. To the south, the livelihood of around 5000 persons directly dependent on fishing for living in fishing villages of Katli, Ingalwadi, Jambhari will be adversely affected. The livelihoods of thousands more who work in the local fishing industry and trade will be devastated.

The current requirement of power of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts is a mere 180 MW, against which 4663 MW of power plant capacity is currently already being exported from these two districts with a further increase of 600 MW in one or two months.

Since shortage of power is cited as the justification for this project we are enclosing a booklet on the alternatives before the country for electricity generation for your perusal.

You are aware that Konkan is the Kashmir of Maharashtra. Substantial employment can be created in industries based on the rich natural resources which do not destroy but preserve and develop the natural wealth. If fish resources are protected, fishing and industries around fish reprocessing can flourish. The working people of Konkan can live with dignity. The farmers, workers and fishing community of Konkan desire a nature conserving, viable and people-oriented development in the Konkan. What kind of development is desirable and what is not is outlined in the booklet that we are enclosing with this letter.

If the government is serious about having a frank dialogue with the activists and the people, certain minimum requirements should be observed. The discussion should take place not in Mumbai but nearby the project site. The organizations opposing the project should have the prerogative to choose their spokesmen and representatives. There should be sufficient time for preparing the discussions on a mutually agreed agenda. The common people should be allowed to participate in the discussion. The issues involved require a discussion of a full day or two days- they cannot be dealt with in a short 2 hour meeting. Only if these minimum requirements are met will it be possible to have a serious and meaningful discussion which is open and unbiased.

If the only purpose of the meeting is to clear our doubts, there is no need for such a meeting. If the meeting is called for any other reason, it is still not possible for us to participate in the current environment of police and state repression. Since the commencement of land acquisition in 2006 ban orders under sections 37(3) (1), 144 have been continuously promulgated in the area, to prevent our exercise of democratic rights. False cases have been foisted on activists. The whole area has been converted into a permanent police camp. Our daily life and livelihood has been rendered difficult, in fact impossible. Mr. Praveen Gavankar, who is a leader of the agitation, has had false cases registered against him and his bail applications have been opposed by the government, to keep imminent arrest as a hanging sword over his head. Peaceful citizens of Maharashtra are being treated as criminals. It is not possible to have a dialogue in these circumstances. We cannot think of discussions if the ban orders and false cases are not withdrawn.

However, if the government is prepared to reconsider the project with an open mind and announces so publicly, we are prepared to meet you for discussions anywhere and at any time.

Your government is trying to impose the project on us. We are determined to oppose it by a mass movement peacefully and democratically. We request you to recognize this democratic opposition, stop attempts to crush it by force, declare that the JNPP project is cancelled and allow us and the people of Maharashtra to live in peace and security.

Our demands:

1. Cancel the Jaitapur Nuclear Project
- 2. Return the lands which have been forcibly acquired from us.
- 3. Withdraw all police cases filed against the movement activists and also the ban orders and create a suitable environment for dialogue.

Your truly,
- For Janahit Seva Samiti, Madban

Sd/-

Praveen Gavankar, Shyamsundar Narvekar, Surfuddin Kazi, Amjad Borkar, Dr. Milind Desai, Rajan Wadekar, Ramesh Kajve, Shrikrishna Mayekar, Mangesh Kaskar, Bala Gavankar, Malik Gadkari, Sadat Habib, Ms. Manda Wadekar, Mrs.Ranjana Manjrekar

And

Konkan Bachao Samiti, Konkan Vinashakari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, Maharashtra Macchhimar Kruti Samit, Ratnagiri Jilha Jagruk Manch
Ratanagiri Dist, Madban-Mithgavhane-Jaitapur Sangharsh Samiti

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