Saturday, January 24, 2015

Letter to Modi, Obama: Gujarat locals seek consultation, say "no" to nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi

By Our Representative
Seeking “fair and open discussion” on the proposed 6,000 MW Mithi Virdi nuclear power plant in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, the sarpanches of four affected villages – Mithi Virdi, Jaspara, Mandva and Khadarpar – have said that before taking any decision on the project, they should be consulted. Led by Shaktisinh Gohil, sarpanch, Jasapara village, and addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, visiting India as guest of the Republic Day parade, their letter said, they wished to “put on record” their viewpoint regarding the proposed project”.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), a Government of India company, seeks to install six 1000 MW (AP 1000) nuclear reactors with the joint support of the American company, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, to implement the project. The letter has been forwarded by influential Vadodara-based environmental body, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti leaders Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah.
“We are deeply concerned that NPCIL has nominated an environmental consulting firm Engineers India Limited lacking necessary accreditation to conduct the environmental impact assessment for nuclear power plants. In fact, no agency in India is accredited to assess nuclear power projects by the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training”, the letter said. It was released a day after people of 300 villages which will be directly or indirectly affected by the project observed a one-day fast against the nuclear project.
“In all, 152 villages with a population of more than 200,000 in 30 km radius of the proposed nuclear power plant will be adversely affected by the project. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture. The rich alluvial soil here supports crops like groundnut, wheat, bajra, and cotton, and fruits like mango, chikoos and coconut. The area also grows and supplies vegetables like onion, brinjal, gourd, tomatoes, and drumsticks on a regular basis to other parts of the state, and the climate and the soil are suitable for cashew nuts”, the letter said.
“This rich agriculture is threatened by the proposed nuclear plant. Moreover, the site of the project is about 5 km from top lignite mining site, while Asia’s biggest ship-breaking yard Alang is only a stones throw away, posing additional threats to public safety”, it insisted.
Pointing out that there is no local sanction to the the plant, the letter said, “On March 9, 2013 the gram panchayats of four most-affected villages -- Jaspara, Mithi Virdi, Mandva, and Khadarpar -- passed a resolution declaring the entire Mithi Virdi-Jaspara region as nuclear free zone. Yet, a state official (taluka development officer) unconstitutionally ordered the elected village head (sarpanch) of Jaspara to grant approval for the state government transfer of forest land to the NPCIL in a letter dated July 15, 2013”.
Meanwhile, the letter reminded the two leader, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has already asked NPCIL to “revise” and “resubmit” its Environment Impact Assessment report of the project, as it lacks clarity on a large number of issues. “The panel criticized the NPCIL for a three year delay in the proposal for environmental clearance following “site clearance” of the project by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, and noted key coastal regulatory clearances to be missing”, the letter added.
Pointing towards “major shortcomings in the environment impact report”, the letter said, the MoEF noted following shortcomings in it:
  • absence of “base-line radioactivity data for milk samples;” 
  • the absence of the “impact of two hills near the site on atmospheric dispersion;” 
  • only eight water samples were collected and the need to “collect data for three seasons and submit;” the location of the Near Surface Disposal Facilities (NSDF) for radioactive waste was not clear; unclear “impact on land and groundwater;” 
  • absence of current status and a detailed study of “effect of historical tsunamis;” and 
  • no copy of the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the state irrigation department “since the project is located in a command area”. 
“This casual approach to clearing a nuclear power plant can lead to a major nuclear disaster. Agriculture forms the backbone for human survival, and this project strikes on a very important asset of our country – the prime agricultural lands”, the letter said, adding, “It is not that we are against electricity generation. But no serious thought has been given to the available sustainable alternatives for electricity generation.”
Concluding, the letter puts up forward three set of demands:
  1. The concerned authority should immediately reject the present EIA of Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant of NPCIL prepared by EIL. 
  2. Let the sarpanches have fair and open discussion on the proposed 6000 MW Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant Project before taking any decision on the project. 
  3. Consider other environmentally sustainable and non-hazardous technologies for electricity production, which can co-exist without disturbing the agricultural livelihoods.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These protesters are so passionate about their cause that they even used the same blue markers and penmanship on their signs!