Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from | @sacw
Home > Environment, Health and Social Justice > India: People’s Tribunal on the Safety, Viability and Cost Efficiency of (...)

India: People’s Tribunal on the Safety, Viability and Cost Efficiency of Nuclear Energy (19 - 21 May 2011, Mumbai) - Tribunal Blurb and News coverage

23 May 2011

print version of this article print version


May 16, 2011

People’s Tribunal on the Safety, Viability and Cost Efficiency of Nuclear Energy (May 19-21, 2011, Mumbai)

Several human rights groups, scientists, activists and project affected groups from the Konkan region of Maharashtra have invited two retired Judges of the Indian Higher Judiciary, Justices A.P. Shah formerly of the Delhi High Court and Justice S.D. Pandit formerly of the Bombay High Court to head a People’s Tribunal on the Safety, Viability and Cost Efficiency of Nuclear Energy. This Tribunal will sit for three days in Mumbai between May 19-21, 2011 and record depositions of experts, scientists, doctors and project affected persons from the Konkan and other regions of the country. Officials and senior functionaries of the central and state government as also the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NMCIL) have also been invited to depose. The People’s Commission will consist of Justice A. P. Shah, former chief justice of Delhi High Court and Justice S. D. Pandit, a former judge of the Bombay High Court. In the context of the recent developments and people’s movement at the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant, the hearings of this Judicial Commission become even more significant.

The Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti, the Maharashtra Macchimar Kruti Samiti, Janhit Sewa Samiti, Madban, Lokshasan Andolan, Lokayat and Sabrang Trust in collaboration with the St Xavier’s College, Mumbai are jointly organizing this public hearing on the critical question of safety and cost efficacy (or otherwise) of Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Power Plants.
The hearings before the commission will take place for 3 days from May 19-21, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the St. Xavier’s College in Bombay Dhobi Talav Mumbai – 2. Greenpeace Exhibition on the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster will also be on display during the three days of the People’s Tribunal.

Several experts from all over the country and abroad will depose before the Commission either in person or through electronic means. For three hours every day, project affected persons and experts from the Konkan region will also depose. Following the three day hearing in Mumbai, the two Judges panel are also likely to visit the villages in Ratnagiri district affected by the Jaitapur project and in recent months the scene of violence and repression by the local police. Even today fair entry of persons has not been allowed into the district. Enclosed is a list of some of the experts who have been invited to depose before the Commission.

Project affected personas and affected people from from Mithi Virdi (Gujarat), Fatehabad (Haryana), Chutka (Madhya Pradesh) Kovvada and Nalagoda (Andhra Pradesh) and Koodamkulam (Tamil Nadu) have also been invited to depose.

We urge that you cover this People’s Commission to encourage a wider democratic debate on the vital issue of the safety and viability of nuclear energy.

Expert Depositions

Neeraj Jain, Lokayat
- Dr Surendra Gadekar, expert on nuclear energy
- Dr. V.T. Padmanabha, Sarvodaya, research paper on Nuclear Power Station’s radioactive
- Admiral Ramdas former Chief of the Indian Navy
- Dr. Anant Phadke, Medico Friends Circle
- Dr Arun Mitra, General Secretary, Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (INDP)
- Gopal Krishna, Toxics Watch Alliance
- Praful Bidwai, Journalist and office bearer of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament
- Dr Soumya Dutta, a scientists with the Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha
- Dr. Suvrat Raju, Research Scientist, Allahabad
- Dr. Tushar Chakraborty, Head Gene Regulation Laboratory, Kolkatta
- Dr. Shakeel Ur Rehman, Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (INDP), Patna

impact on human health of the surrounding population

Karuna Raina, Greenpeace Campaigner
- Dr Vishnu Kamat, leading scientist, Bangalore
- Dr. Balaram, Director IISC, Bangalore
- Dr. Amar Jesani, CEHAT, Mumbai
- Konkan Bachao Samiti
- Ms. Madhu Mohite

Written Depositions:

Dr. A Gopalkrishnan, formerly Atomic Energy Institute
- Dr Meher Engineer, nuclear scientists (sending his paper)
- K. Ashok Rao, engineer formerly with BHEL (sending written deposition)
- Prof Atul Chokshi of materials engineering at IISC will depose on the basis of its research paper in Current Science, India’s most respected science journal

Official Experts

Dr Manmohan Singh, Honourable Prime Minister, Government of India
- Shri Prithviraj Chavan, Honourable Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra
- Shri Ajit Pawar, Honourable Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra
- Shri J. M. Mauskar, Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests,
- Shri Jairam Ramesh, Honourable Minister for Environment and Forests, Government of India
- Shri Narayan Rane, Honourable Minister for Industries, Government of Maharashtra
- Shri T. Chatterjee, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests,
- Shri R. Balasubramaniam, Member, Management Services Group, Department of Atomic Energy
- Dr. S. K. Jain, Chairman & Managing Director, Nuclear Power Corporation Of India Limited (NPCIL)
- Chief Vigilance Officer, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL)
- Shri S.S. Bajaj, Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
- Shri S.K.Chande, Ex-Officio Member, Vice-Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
- Prof. J. B. Joshi, Member, AERB & Director, UICT, University of Mumbai, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
- Shri R. Bhattacharya, Secretary, AERB & Director, Information & Technical Services Division & Director, Industrial Plants Safety Division, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board,Department of Atomic Energy
- Dr. K. A. Dinshaw, Member, AERB & Former Director, Tata Memorial Centre, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
- Dr. K. V. Raghavan, Member, AERB & Former Chairman, Recruitment & Assessment Centre, DRDO, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
- Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission & Secretary to Govt. of India, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri. V. Narayanasamy, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Minister of State, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri. T.K.A. Nair, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Principal Sec. to the Prime Minister, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri. Shivshankar Menon, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & National Security Advisor, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri. K.M. Chandrasekhar, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Cabinet Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy
- Smt. Nirupama Rao, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Foreign Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy
- Smt. Sushma Nath, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Secretary Dept of Expenditure, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri V.V. Bhat, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Secretary to Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri (Prof.) C.N.R. Rao, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & President, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru, Department of Atomic Energy
- Dr. M.R. Srinivasan, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Former Member (Energy) Planning Commission & ex-Chairman AEC, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri (Prof.) P. Rama Rao, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & ISRO Dr. -Brahm Prakash Distinguished Professor, Chairman BRNS & Former Chairman Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri Dr Anil Kakodkar, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Former Chairman, AEC and Homi Bhabha Professor, Department of Atomic Energy
- Dr R.B. Grover, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Principal Adviser, DAE, Department of Atomic Energy
- Dr R. K. Sinha, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri Arun Srivastava, Member, Atomic Energy Commission & Member, Strategic Planning Group, Scientific Officer-H, DAE, Department of Atomic Energy
- Dr. Ratan Kumar Sinha, Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
- Shri A.B. Awati, Member, Strategic Planning Group, DAE, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri R. Balasubramaniam, Member, Management Services Group, Department of Atomic Energy
- Shri V T Padmanabha, Nuclear Radiation Expert
- Shri Madhukar B. Gaikwad, Collector, Ratnagiri
- Shri Pradip Raskar, Superintendent of Police, Ratnagiri
- Shri Ajit Parasnis, Director General of Police, Maharashtra

The Sessions will cover the following areas:

The Safety Aspect of Nuclear Energy

Is It Inherently Dangerous?

i) The radiation leakage during the entire nuclear fuel cycle, that is, from mining to the reactors to decommissioning and waste disposal.

ii) The inherent dangers of nuclear reactors

a) The inevitable leakage of radiation from nuclear reactors.

b) The problem of radioactive waste, about which no solution is actually possible, and which are leaking everywhere.

c) The inevitability of nuclear accidents, in which we can take the lessons of Fukushima also.


Is there or Can there ever be a Safe Dose of Radiation?

Doctors and Medical Experts will depose on the issue of Radiation and the impact of Nuclear Power Plants on the Populations that live around them (including Tarapur) and labour working at nuclear power plants

Safety and Viability of Jaitapur Itself

The issue is that apart from the dangers of nuclear energy, the Jaitapur nuclear has not been given safety clearance by even pro-nuclear countries like USA and England, apart from doubts raised by the French authorities also. Even if one argues that nuclear energy is okay, why have this kind of dangerous reactor.

Project affected persons and activists from MIthivirdi in Gujarat, Gorakhpur in Haryana, Chutka in MP, Haripur in W Bengal, Kovvada in AP apart from Kudankulam

Repression in Jaitapur

There has been systematic state repression and violation of basic human rights of persons in Jaitapur leading to the death by brute force of two protestors and also the curbing of freedom of movement in the area. Women have also been the victim of force and police beating.

On Economic Costs of nuclear electricity

The economic feasibility of nuclear energy as a choice when far more accessible and less dangerous energy options are available will be explored in this session.

Democratising the Debate on Nuclear Energy

Project Affected Populations and their Leaders, especially from Jaitapur will depose on the non transparent and anti democratic manner in which the project at Jaitapur has been sanctioned violating all democratic norms as also the views of the Gram Panchayats

The secrecy surround ding India’s nuclear establishment will also be explored. There is little transparency, it is governed by a very dictatorial law, it operates the world’s most inefficient and dangerous reactors, there are many inaccuracies dished out officially about accidents, and there is a lackadaisical attitude to safety. Today in India we do not even have an independent Nuclear Safety Regulator.

o o o o


The Hindu

Mumbai, May 23, 2011

No safety study undertaken on Jaitapur project: Justice Shah

Vinaya Deshpande

Lamenting the lack of public debate in India, the former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, A.P. Shah, said during the public hearing on the safety, viability and cost efficiency of nuclear energy here on Saturday that the Jaitapur nuclear power project would be a catastrophe if all the safety concerns were not addressed.

Justice Shah, who is heading a people’s tribunal along with the Justice S.D. Pandit on the project, said: “Enron was only a financial disaster, but this [Jaitapur project] would be a catastrophe. Unfortunately, there is no public debate in the country. Everything is hush-hush,” he said.

Appalled after being pointed out that there was no safety study conducted by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), he said, “There is a clear failure of undertaking a safety study.” He suggested that the EAC should send ask for another Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).

Deposing before the tribunal, Vivek Monteiro of the Konkan Bachao Samiti pointed out the procedural lapses during the granting of permission for the project. “There has been no official critical interrogation of the project done anywhere till now. Major safety factors are absent in the report,” he said.
“There is absence of the word ‘reprocessing’ in the 1,200-page report of the EIA. Since radioactive waste management can span human generations, this must be taken into consideration,” he said.

Storage problem

Activists said that the amount of spent fuel produced by the project would be so much that it would have to be stored safely for 2.5-lakh years. “Long-term safe storage of radioactive substances has to be provided for. The EIA does not talk about it,” Dr. Monteiro said.

“The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is an important Ministry. If the sanction has been given by them, then the process is incomplete. Safety consideration should have come first,” Justice Shah said after hearing the deposition.

A researcher deposed before the tribunal citing case studies about the impact of nuclear projects on marine life in the coastal areas. Even Debi Goenka, Executive Trustee of Conservation Action Trust, said that the only condition put by the MoEF was that the temperature of the discharged water should not exceed more than five degrees Celsius with respect to the temperature of the sea water.

“Whereas the MoEF should also have stipulated that the absolute temperature of the mixed water should not exceed 33 degrees Celsius at any point of time, because at this temperature, marine life would be deprived of dissolved oxygen and would be unable to survive,” he said.
“Nobody has undertaken this study [on the impact on marine animals]. We are going to have six reactors with substantial energy production,” Justice Shah said.

Dr. Monteiro and Mr. Goenka said that the environmental clearance granted by the MoEF was only on political and strategic considerations and not on environmental basis.

Mr. Goenka said that there were many inconsistencies in the EIA report. There was no independent appraisal of the project from important perspectives such as plant design and its safety. Dr. Monteiro said that the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) had not approved the design and safety of the plant.

Justice Shah observed that the State government used “brutal force to suppress the people.” “We will visit Madban in July and submit our report by August,” he said.

“Though the authorities have opted not to appear before us, we will take into consideration their views,” he said, adding that after studying the depositions of various government bodies and organisations, the tribunal would send a questionnaire to the AERB and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.

Report by August

“Our report will be based on various aspects such as environmental issues, displacement, fishermen’s problems, repression by the government. By August, we will release the report after following the due process,” he said.
The Tata Institute of Social Sciences deposed before the tribunal and handed over a copy of its fact-finding report titled ‘Refugees of development,’ registering their opposition to the project.

o o o

The Hindu

Mumbai, May 20, 2011

Locals stick to anti-N plant stand before ‘People’s Tribunal’


Continuing the strong opposition to the proposed 9,900 mw nuclear power project in Jaitapur in the coastal Ratnagiri district, the villagers from the nearby Sakhri-Nate village today alleged that their voice of protest had been suppressed by the “autocratic government”.

Around 20 villagers, mostly from fishermen community, deposed before the “People’s Tribunal” of Justice (retd) A P Shah and Justice (retd) S D Pandit which is conducting a non-governmental inquiry into the controversial project.

“Police beat me up with sticks and also hurt my 10-year-old son when he went to see the protest”, said Noorjehan Kate, deposing before the tribunal.
“We are concerned about the large amount of hot water that will be discharged from the nuclear plant into the sea.

It will harm water ecology and marine diversity and will be disastrous for fishing activity,” said president of the Maharashtra Macchimar Kruti Samiti (Ratnagiri district).

Both Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and Nuclear Power Corporation Limited (NPCL) sent the documents sought by the tribunal. However no official from these two organisations deposed.

Lashing out at the AERB, Justice A P Shah said, “I don’t know why there is this half-hearted approach by the AERB. It is unfortunate that the officials don’t want to face the people’s court.”

The documents too did not have answers to the objections raised by the tribunal, Justice Shah added.

o o o

The Times of India

N-authorities slammed for skipping ’court’

Simit Bhagat, May 21, 2011, 12.01am IST

MUMBAI: On the second day of the people’s tribunal on the safety, viability and cost efficiency of nuclear energy at St Xavier’s College, the judges criticized the atomic energy authorities, as they failed to depose before the court to present their side.

The tribunal, headed by S D Pandit, former judge of the Bombay high court and A P Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi high court, said, "Democracy is by the people and for the people. It is really unfortunate that the authorities do not want to face the people’s court and clarify the people’s contentions."

On Thursday, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) sent documents to the organizers of the people’s tribunal on various aspects of nuclear power, including safety of Indian N-plants, radiation,radiation, health and safety and project benefits of Jaitapur nuclear power plant project.

However, none of the government officials concerned was present at the proceedings. "We do not understand the logic of merely sending documents pertaining to nuclear energy instead of being present. If the authorities would have been present, we would have got a chance to cross-question and get clarification on certain aspects," commented the panel. of retired judges.

Meanwhile, 30-odd project affected persons, including a 10-year-old boy, Muhammad Kate, came from Madban and Sakhri Nate village in Ratnagiri district and deposed before the people’s court.

"The recent Fukushima incident has given us a lesson that nuclear accidents can happen and cause irreparable damage," said Dr Bhikaji Waghdhare from Madban village, adding, "There is no doubt the state requires more electricity, but why are we opting only for nuclear power? The government must rethink its strategy and look at safe alternatives like solar and wind power."

Another researcher and IITian, Dr Mangesh Sawant, deposed before the court and explained how the increase in sea water temperatures due to thermal discharge wreak havoc on marine life. "Even a 1% rise in sea water temperatures can affect marine life and here we are talking about 4-5% rise. Also, the question on the massive generation of nuclear waste due to the project still remains unanswered," he said.

On Friday, the panel judges heading the tribunal decided to visit villages around Jaitapur to listen to the grievances of the people affected by the proposed nuclear project. On the last day of tribunal on Saturday, apart from experts and researchers, a group of students from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS will present a study Refugees of Development on the state of the project affected persons in Jaitapur.

o o o

The Times of India

Activists vent ire at Jaitapur N-project at people’s court

Simit Bhagat, May 20, 2011, 01.43am IST

MUMBAI: The central hall at St Xavier’s College had a packed audience on Thursday, the first day of the ’people’s tribunal on the safety, viability and cost efficiency of nuclear energy’.

Environmental activists, researchers, project-affected persons and retired navy personnel deposed before the tribunal headed by A P Shah, former chief justice of the Delhi high court, and S D Pandit, former judge of the Bombay high court.

"In a democracy, people make their own informed choice. But in the case of the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, neither the total cost of the project, nor the actual environmental damage is being made public," said Surendra Gadekar, a physicist, who made a PowerPoint presentation. "Preliminary surveys for nuclear projects-whether Pokhran or Madban-were being done under false pretexts. The people are always kept in the dark when it comes to nuclear power or even accidents. The recent Fukushima episode is a classic example."

The judges recorded the depositions of both activists and researchers, who presented papers on why nuclear power projects should be abandoned in general and why the Jaitapur project should be abandoned in particular. The three-day people’s court, to conclude on May 21, will give its verdict after hearing all the parties.

"It’s not just earthquakes or tsunamis that we need to worry about when it comes to large nuclear projects. At every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, radioactive material is released into the atmosphere," said Soumya Dutta, convener, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha.

One of the project affected persons, Sriram Mayekar, who had come down all the way from Madban village in Ratnagiri district said that if people from the entire region are opposed to the project, why does the government want to still go ahead?

"The project will impact fisheries and we will also lose our land. We will face bullets and lathi, but not allow this project to come up," said Mayekar.
On Friday, Dr V T Padmanabhan - senior scientist, Dr A Gopalakrishnan - Former Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and Dr M K Prabhu - geologist are some of the experts expected to make presentations in the tribunal.
Meanwhile, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a public sector enterprise, has submitted a written presentation on nuclear energy that will be heard on Thursday by the tribunal.