A people’s hearing on nuclear power in India was held in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss grassroots concerns and people’s experiences, and to take note of violations of their human rights.
The hearing began at Gandhi Peace Foundation, 221-223, Deendayal Upadhyay Marg in Delhi at 11 am and lasted till 6 pm.
People from all the sites made presentations with a special emphasis on Koodankulam and Gorakhpur. Also, experts presented their testimonies to a panel of judges consisting of eminent citizens.
The Government of India is pushing through a massive expansion of nuclear energy in the most undemocratic manner, overlooking its dangerous impacts on the health, safety and livelihoods of local communities, the larger perspective of energy security for India, the economic and environmental costs of nuclear energy, and the global decline in the salience of nuclear energy after the Fukushima catastrophe.
There has been an upsurge of strong grassroots struggles against nuclear power projects and other installations in the recent past. At Koodankulam, for instance, a mass agitation involving tens of thousands of people has been sustained for a year since August 16, 2011. At Gorakhpur, in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, farmers have sat on a dharna every day for 2 years in protest against the planned nuclear power station. They are particularly agitated over a fraudulent public hearing which was held on 17th July without giving copies of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to the people, as is mandatory.
Strong agitations have been launched in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, where the world’s biggest nuclear power park has been planned. Similar protests have broken out at other planned sites all over India.
The government has vilified these movements as “misguided” instigated by “outsiders”, has criminalized them and has filed hundreds of police cases against them. It has studiedly ignored their concerns about nuclear safety heightened after Fukushima and refused to part with basic documents such as Environmental Impact Assessment and Safety Evaluation Reports (SERs) and the inter-governmental contracts etc.
The repression has led to blatant violations of basic rights at different sites – for instance, nearly 7000 people in Koodankulam who have led consistently peaceful protest face charges of sedition and war against the Indian state. Similar repression and undermining of democratic norms is under way at the other nuclear sites such as Jaitapur, Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, Mithi Virdi in Gujarat, Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, Kota in Rajasthan, etc.
More recently, a fresh protest broke out at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan where a nuclear fuel complex has been planned. The recent tritium leak in the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station exposing 38 casual workers to dangerous radiation has also put a question mark over the safety of existing nuclear facilities.
People’s testimonies: Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Gorakhpur, Chutka, Mithivirdi, Rawatbhata
Independent Experts: Praful Bidwai, Soumya Dutta, Surendra Gadekar, M G Devasahayam and others
Jury: Justice A P Shah, Admiral L. Ramdas, Aruna Roy, K S Subramanian
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Sundaram(CNDP): 91-9810556134, email@example.com
Bhargavi (Delhi Forum): 91-9582452343, firstname.lastname@example.org