After terming the Indo-US nuclear deal his “greatest achievement”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is going to Fatehabad, Haryana on 13th January to lay the foundation stone for the Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Project. Just 150 kms from New Delhi, this project is an invitation to disaster as it critically depends on a canal for cooling-water supply; canals can fail or dry up.
The plant will steal precious water from Haryana’s farmers and deprive more than 1 lakh acres of land of irrigation. The available quantity of water will be insufficient in case of an accident.
It is shocking that India is making a mockery of all post-Fukushima lessons and embarking on an insane nuclear expansion drive, while the whole world is turning away from nuclear power and embracing sustainable energy.
The Gorakhpur nuclear project would doom the agrarian-based local economy, displacing and dispossessing many times more people than the jobs it would ever generate. Independent experts have also raised questions like serious threats to wildlife and environmental destruction.
Gorakhpur’s people are being subject to unreasonable risks and hazards from the Nuclear Power Corporation’s plan to set up 700 MW reactors, India’s biggest, with whose design and operation NPC has no experience, and that too without adequate supply of water.
Haryana farmers have protested strongly against the project for more than four years. The agitation forced government officers to flee from a farcical environmental public hearing organised in 2012. A majority of the area’s people staunchly oppose the project. But the government has acquired land from a handful of farmers using both the stick and the carrot.
We urge that the PM should restrain from inaugurating the Gorakhpur nuclear project and immediately organise wider consultations with the local community, civil society groups and independent experts. These must address the issue of the Environmental Impact Assessment process, which has been turned into a mockery by ignoring and suppressing the crucial issue of radiation impacts. We strongly such misadventure by a lame-duck outgoing prime Minister.
The government must resolve all these vital questions, including adequacy and reliability of cooling-water supply, before even thinking of laying the foundation stone of the plant.
December 11, 2014